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Also by C. Northcote Parkinson 

Parkinson's Law 
AND Other Studies in Administration 


Evolution of 

Political Thought 

C. Northcote Parkinson 




Copyright © 1958 by C. Northcote Parkinson 

All rights reserved including the right to 
reproduce this book or parts thereof in any form 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-1 1710 





Preface ........ 7 

Introduction — Primitive Man . . . . 17 

Part I 

T. Monarchy among Agricultural Peoples . . 28 

II. Monarchy among Pastoral Peoples ... 39 

III. The Implications of War ..... 45 

IV. Monarchy and Nationalism .... 53 
V. Monarchy justified by Divine Right . . 74 

VI. Monarchy justified by Expedience ... 82 

Part II 

VII. Feudalism ........ 92 

VIII. Aristocracy 102 

IX. Aristocracy justified in Theory . . .110 

X. Theocracy ....... 121 

XI. Theocracy justified in Theory .... 142 

XII. The Theocracy of Communism . . . .151 


Part III 

XIII. The Origins of Democracy . . . .168 

XIV. Democracy at Rome 181 

XV. Democracy justified by Religion . . .188 

XVI. Democracy justified by Reason . . .199 

XVII. Democracy justified by Utility . . . 209 

XVIII. Democracy carried to its Logical Conclusion 224 

Part IV 

XIX. Democracy in Decline ..... 238 

XX. The Caudillos . . . . . . .251 

XXI. Twentieth Century Dictatorship . . . 260 

XXII. The Theory of Dictatorship . . . .271 

XXIII. Dictatorship in Decay 285 

XXIV. Bonapartism 297 

Epilogue 305 

Index 317 


MOST universities offer courses of lectures in what is called the 
History of Political Thought. The nature of these courses is 
fairly reflected in the books compiled on this subject; books written 
or edited by the lecturers and recommended without hesitation to 
their pupils. While the titles catalogued are numerous and varied, the 
books themselves are not dissimilar in content. Fluttering the pages 
of any volume, chosen at random, the reader will not fail to glimpse 
successively the names of Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Machiavelli, 
Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham and Mill. On adjacent shelves he 
will find editions of the works from which the compiler has drawn — 
More's Utopia, Machiavelli's Prince, Bacon in person and Halifax 
himself. A study of these books, both texts and commentary, is held 
to constitute a sufficient grounding in political theory, useful to the 
student of history and of interest indeed to anyone. 

While the value of these works (or, at any rate, of some of them) is 
beyond question, their general tendency is not without its dangers. 
The reader is left with fallacies as well as facts. These fallacies are 
neither stated nor upheld nor even perhaps deliberately implied. 
They arise indeed less from the study of any given work than, as a 
general impression, from all. They are none the less fallacious for 
that and their refutation is more than overdue. 

First of these implicit fallacies is the idea that political thought is 
confined to authors and denied to everyone else. By this reasoning we 
must learn the ideas of Plato and Laski and can safely ignore those of 
Pericles and Churchill. This is surely to give an absurd weight to the 
accident of authorship. The idea expressed verbally or in action may 
be at least as novel and potent as the idea expressed with pen and ink. 
Closely connected with this fallacy is the idea that political theory 
has its origin in ancient Greece. The classically-educated historian 
has rarely thought it necessary to go either further back or further 
afield. He may have been misled by the derivation of the words in 
use; and yet the absurdity of this would seem obvious enough. To 
deny that there were politics before the Greeks invented the word is 
no more reasonable than to assume that the Greeks were uncivilised 
until the Romans had taught them Latin. 

If it is wrong to conclude that all political theory began with Plato, 
it is at least equally wrong to suppose that all political thinking has 
been done in Europe and America. Of nearly every basic political 


concept it is true to say that the Greeks had a word for it and often 
the word that is still in use. That is not to say, however, that there is 
no Chinese word with a similar meaning. Still less need we assume that 
the Chinese and Indians have had no ideas of their own. There are 
books purporting to summarise the history of political thought of 
which it can truly be said that they do nothing of the kind. Candid at 
least are the book titles in which 'Western' political thought is 
specified and more candid still those which define their even narrower 
scope 'From Bacon to Halifax'. But while there is reason to commend 
the honesty of those who profess to do no more than they have done, 
there is less to be said for their originality and courage. Too many 
have followed each other along the same well-trodden track. Too few 
have seen that a history of political thought must be world-wide if it 
is not to be fallacious. 

Another impression which the reader may gain from reading the 
current books on political thought is that the development of political 
institutions has progressed steadily from the days of Lycurgus or 
Solon down to the present day; the ultimate achievement being 
British Parliamentary Democracy or else perhaps the American Way 
of Life. There are here two separate fallacies involved. The first lies 
in the assumption that all history illustrates a story of betterment or 
progress with ourselves as the final product. The second lies in the 
assumption that such progress as there has been is a western achieve- 
ment in which no oriental can claim even the smallest share. History 
records no such monopoly and no such unbroken progression. What 
the historian does find, however, is a recurrence of the belief that 
perfection has been reached and that a given constitution (like that of 
the United States) represents finality. There is, in fact, no historical 
reason for supposing that our present systems of governance are 
other than quite temporary expedients. To demonstrate, therefore, 
that all progress leads upwards to these pinnacles of wisdom is 
peculiarly needless. In such an attempt one ignores half the work that 
has already been done and all the work that is still to do. 

The belief that the present or else some other recommended 
constitution can represent finality is as old or older than Plato. It 
runs through many of the texts which the student is required to read. 
It forms even now the basis for heated discussions as to what form of 
rule is best. It is essentially pre-Darwinian, however, as a mode of 
thought. No believer in evolution would expect to find that sort of 
finality. He would rather regard society as a growing tree than as a 
building nearing its completion. He would hope to trace a pattern of 
growth and decay. He would question, on principle, whether any 
society could be static. He would see in finality nothing more nor less 
than death. In practice, however, it is easier for the student of to-day 


to appreciate how institutions have evolved than to grasp that their 
evolution must and should continue. Even when the likelihood of 
further development is recognised, it is usually seen as a perfecting of 
what exists; as the process, for example, by which representative 
democracy can be made more representative still. But history shows 
us no previous example of institutions thus perfected. It reveals rather 
a sequence in which one form of rule replaces another, each in turn 
achieving not perfection but decay. The fallacy of the Utopians is to 
suppose that finality can and should be attained. To the believer in 
evolution nothing could seem less probable. 

One other error implied in the existing text-books is that the 
published works of political theorists have had a vast influence on 
actual events. The student is all too apt to visualise each leader as one 
likely to refer to a book before deciding upon a policy. But Robes- 
pierre no more slept with Le Contrat Social under his pillow than did 
Louis XVI refer to the Leviathan. No actual politician is greatly 
influenced by a book of political theory although many have been 
influenced by a book of religion. The politician who reads at all will 
have read not only the text which the historian thinks significant but 
forty-nine other forgotten works of which the historian has never even 
heard. And if one book appears to have been his favourite it will be 
because the author recommends what he, the ruler, has already 
decided to do; or what indeed he has already done. Historically, the 
book comes afterwards to defend the deed. This is not to say that the 
book is always written after the revolution it seems to justify. It may 
be written beforehand, gaining its wide circulation only after the 
event. The books, by contrast, which supported the losing cause have 
been forgotten, overlooked, destroyed — or else never published. 
There is thus a natural selection among books, giving to some the 
popularity and survival which rewards what is relevant to the mood of 
an age, and ensuring for others the oblivion reserved for all that seems 
eccentric and out of tune. In ancient China (as in modern China) the 
books out of accord with the party line were deliberately burnt. In 
England or America the books thus out of step will remain un- 
published for lack of expected sales. It is not books which influence 
political events. It is the events which decide which book is to be 
pulped and which made compulsory reading in the schools. 

The significance then of the political theorist is not that he guided 
the ruler but that he provided the ruler with a rational explanation of 
what he, the ruler, had already done. His works to that extent throw 
light upon the age in which he lived — or at any rate upon the age in 
which his works were widely read. But to interpret policy throughout 
the ages in terms of its literary justification is open to certain ob- 
jections, of which the chief is that politics are far older than political 


theory. To begin the story where it is usually made to begin (in 
Athens of the 5th century B.C.) is to omit the essential background to 
all human affairs; the background studied by the anthropologist. It 
would be untrue to say that all authors on the history of political 
theory have ignored this background. It is with reference to it, 
however, that they prove least convincing. They are apt to perpetuate 
by quotation the mistakes made (perhaps unavoidably) by the 
earlier political thinkers. These philosophers were apt to picture a 
happy community of primitive men suddenly deciding to organise 
themselves and elect a ruler. 

'I assume' writes Rousseau, "^ 'that men have reached a point at 
which the obstacles that endanger their preservation in the state of 
nature overcome by their resistance the forces which each individual 
can exert with a view to maintaining himself in that state. Then this 
primitive condition can no longer subsist, and the human race would 
perish unless it changed its mode of existence. . . .' 

[The problem is] 'To find a form of association which may defend 
and protect with the whole force of the community the person and 
property of every associate, and by means of which each, coalescing 
with all, may nevertheless obey only himself and remain as free as 
before'. [To this problem the Social Contract furnishes the solution.] 

'The clauses of this contract are so determined . . . that, although 
they have never perhaps been formally enunciated, they are every- 
where the same, everywhere tacitly admitted and recognised'. 

There might be no great harm in reading this piece of eighteenth 
century rhetoric provided that the antidote were to follow. The 
student who is advised to read drivel should at least be warned that it 
is drivel he is being asked to read. Wild guesses about primitive man 
are needless, for primitive man has survived for our study. And even 
the slightest acquaintance with the aborigines of Australia, Malaya 
or Borneo will convince the student that no human beings have ever 
come together with an open mind to discuss the basis of their social 
organisation. Nor is there any reason to suppose that our primitive 
ancestors in Europe or indeed in ancient Britain were in this respect 
/very different from the peoples whose culture has remained primitive. 

/ There has never been a clean page upon which to write a constitu- 
tion. Man had, from the start, physical, biological and mental 
characteristics; and many of these he still retains. It is by these 
inherited characteristics, dating back for thousands of years, that his 

"political institutions have been influenced. Books which fail to make 
this clear are as misleading as they are tedious, as dangerous as they 
are wrong. 

It is no wonder that the social anthropologist turns with disgust 

' Social Contract. J. J. Rousseau. Chapter VI. 


from works of political theory. In a recent and important work on the 
political structure of African tribes/ the editors explain how un- 
helpful they found these works to be. 

We have not found that the theories of political philosophers have 
helped us to understand the societies we have studied and we consider 
them of little scientific value; for their conclusions are seldom for- 
mulated in terms of observed behaviour or capable of being tested by 
this criterion. Political philosophy has chiefly concerned itself with 
how men ought to live and what form of government they ought to 
have, rather than with what are their political habits and institutions. 

In so far as political philosophers have attempted to understand 
existing institutions instead of trying to justify or undermine them, they 
have done so in terms of popular psychology or of history. They have 
generally had recourse to hypotheses about earlier stages of human 
society presumed to be devoid of political institutions. . . . 

The editors, in this instance, find some excuse for the political 
theorist in that 'little anthropological research has been conducted 
into primitive political systems' and even less effort made to correlate 
what little has been done. While it is thus true to say that the subject 
remains largely unexplored, it is also manifest (even from such 
knowledge as there is) that the theories of 'original contract' are 
baseless suppositions. The anthropologist may not be ready to 
explain how political institutions first came into being but he is at 
least prepared to describe theories as 'unscientific' which are sup- 
ported neither by evidence nor probability. 

From a study of the existing text-books in political theory some 
would conclude that the whole subject were better taken from the 
historian and handed to the social anthropologist. Rather than leave 
this subject to historians whose works reflect an ignorance of 
anthropology, an ignorance of real politics and an ignorance of any- 
thing outside Europe and America, some would prefer to set up 
schools of political science. For this plan there is much to be said. 
The difficulty about it, as applied to political ideas current in his- 
torical times, is that every political theorist has an historical back- 
ground. He thinks within the framework of the world he knows. 
Eliminate the historian and you lose all trace of the political thinker's 
background and motives. Apart from this danger, it is a question 
whether the historian should remain ignorant of social anthropology. 
It might be better to include pre-history in the syllabus which the 
future historian must study. Whatever is done, however, there will 
remain fields of investigation which the historian and social anthro- 
pologist may have to share. No great harm should result if their 

^African Political Systems. M. Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard. Oxford, 1940. 
See 4th Impression (1950), pp. 4 and 5. 


activities should overlap. More harm results, as at present, in fields 
which each has left to the other. So far from overlapping, their 
present activities do not even meet. 

While it would be absurd to follow previous writers in assuming 
that political thought begins with the Greeks, it is to them that we owe 
many of the political terms commonly in use. As these are not al- 
ways used in exactly the same sense, it may be as well at this point 
to define the terms used in this book. As the Greeks perceived, there 
are, broadly speaking, three alternatives in government; rule by one, 
rule by a few and rule by many. Rule by one person can take the form 
of Monarchy, Despotism or Dictatorship. Monarchy is the rule by 
a King or Queen, depending upon religion, descent, election or 
established custom. Despotism is the rule by a King or Queen, 
established and maintained by force or cunning. Dictatorship is rule 
by a person who is neither King nor Queen whose authority derives 
from a particular emergency and whose office is widely regarded as a 
temporary expedient. Rule by a few can take the form of Feudalism, 
Aristocracy or Oligarchy. Feudalism is rule by nobles, each with 
control of some province or locality and many almost independent 
of any centralised authority. Aristocracy is rule by persons enjoying 
a special and often inherited respect, acting mainly through a 
central government under their own control. (Theocracy, or rule by 
a priesthood, is one form of Aristocracy). Oligarchy is rule by a few 
persons with no special claim to respect other than for their wealth, 
ability or vigour. (Bureaucracy, or rule by officials, is one form of 
Oligarchy). Rule by many can take the form of Democracy, Rep- 
resentative Democracy or Anarchy. Democracy is rule by all or by a 
majority of the voters, by direct expression of their will. Represen- 
tative Democracy is rule by all or a majority of the voters but through 
elected representatives. Anarchy, if it can be termed a form of rule, 
means the refusal of a large number to be ruled at all. 

Although the basic forms of government are only three, it would 
obviously be wrong to expect any government to conform exactly to 
any one of them. In practice, forms of rule are often mixed. Thus, a 
pure monarchy or despotism is difficult to maintain for long except 
over a relatively small area. A single ruler soon needs help and, in 
seeking it, becomes a little less absolute. Despotism or even Dictator- 
ship may become monarchy by virtue of time and habit. A Democracy 
may still retain elements of earlier forms of rule. When, therefore, a 
State is here described as, say, an Aristocracy, it must be taken to 
mean the preponderance of Aristocratic rule, not the exclusion of any 
other form. 

If we owe some of our terminology to Plato, it is from both Plato 
and Aristotle that we take the idea of sequence. As a scientist and the 


son of a physician, Aristotle perceived that forms of rule decay and 
so give place to others. He did not prescribe a single type of con- 
stitution as best for every State. The laws towards which he was feeling 
his way were not The Laws of Plato but the laws of change. With his 
aid we can readily perceive at least a tendency for Monarchy to turn 
into Aristocracy or Feudalism, for Aristocracy to become Democracy 
(perhaps via Oligarchy), for Democracy to turn into chaos and for 
order to be restored by a Despotism or Dictatorship. When the 
Dictatorship gives place to Monarchy the wheel has turned full circle 
and the process may begin again. It would, of course, be a gross 
exaggeration to represent this tendency as an invariable rule. The 
sequence is subject to many variations and exceptions. It can be 
disrupted as a result of war. And different lands within the same 
civilisation develop at different speeds so that, existing side by side, 
they represent different stages of the same sequence. Thus a historian 
of the remote future might remark that the countries of Europe 
mostly passed from Democracy to Dictatorship during the first half 
of the Twentieth Century. This would be true, broadly speaking, but 
he would have to note certain exceptions and explain that the various 
transitions were not simultaneous and that the countries affected were 
not necessarily adjacent to each other. We to-day can generalise about 
the past in much the same way, again noting the exceptions. And one 
factor which we can observe as regulating the speed of change is the 
area and physical nature of the country to be governed. It is almost 
impossible to govern a vast and diverse area except by loyally up- 
holding a more or less divine Monarch. While the sequence of the 
forms of rule may be roughly followed, the tendency is to hurry 
through the forms that are obviously unworkable and return with 
relief to the form which offers most stability. It is perhaps this factor 
more than any other which prevents much valid generalisation about 
any given period. If the Athenians were democrats when the Persians 
were not, it was basically because they had a different problem to 

In a study, therefore, of political institutions and the ideas to which 
they give rise, there is reason to abandon chronology and concentrate 
on the successive forms of governance, in this book the plan followed 
is to take each form in turn and show its origin, its nature, its relative 
success, its theoretical justification, its decline and its decay. For this 
purpose the historical examples will be taken, for purposes of 
illustration, from any period and from any land. This must involve 
drawing upon the political experience of different civilisations. This is 
a useful process although difficult in a book of this size. But the reader 
who is thus encouraged to take a world-wide view should remember 
that the political approach is only one of several. During the life of a 


given civilisation the lands affected by it may undergo different 
forms of rule, and perhaps in a more or less logical sequence, but the 
civilisation has a life cycle of its own and one perhaps uninfluenced by 
political ideas. The rise and fall of civilisations might best be studied 
in terms of climate, food supply, soil-erosion, reproduction and 
disease. As compared with factors such as these, the forms of rule are 
a superficial matter. It is true that certain forms of government are 
often associated with a civilisation's early development. It would be 
far more difficult and controversial to show what type of government 
prevailed at its zenith or during its decay. There is, to begin with, a 
difficulty in agreeing as to when the zenith was reached and almost as 
great a difficulty in fixing a period for a civilisation's end. 

If we see the sequence of political institutions as falling within the 
life-cycle of the different civilisations, it is relevant to ask how long a 
civilisation may be expected to last. The Graeco-Roman civilisation 
might be said to have had a life of 900-1,000 years (say, from 500 B.C. 
or rather earlier, to about a.d. 400). The civilisation of Sumeria and 
Babylon may have lasted about 1,000 years, too. If we regard the 
Chou, Ch'in, and Sui Dynasties of China as representing different 
civilisations, they might be credited with durations of 750, 800 and 
770 years respectively. From a.d. 321 to 1525 India had a civilisation 
which thus lasted about 1,200 years. The civilisation of Inca Peru 
lasted 1,100 years and that of Aztec Mexico about 850. Apart from 
the doubtful examples of Egypt and Japan, we might be tempted to 
conclude that civilisations have an average life of about a thousand 
years. Any such conclusion would be rash but there would be some 
justification for denying that many civilisations have lasted very much 
longer. It has been argued, indeed, that the periods of high civilisation 
have all been relatively brief: — 

The acme of Greek civilization is confined to the fifth and fourth 
centuries B.C., Hellenistic civilization to the third and second cen- 
turies B.C. Rome was certainly not a really cultured country before 
the first century B.C., and her creative period ended with the second 
century of the Christian era. We may reckon the Byzantine civilization 
at best from the sixth to the tenth Century, the Arab civilization from 
the eighth to the twelfth. . . . The periods of high civilization are 
always short — a few centuries, sometimes hardly one century.^ 

The difficulty is one of definition. It might not, however, be wildly 
amiss to think of a civilisation as lasting up to about a thousand years, 
with its greatest achievements confined to a middle period of two or 
three centuries. Any sequence (or repeated sequences) in the forms of 
rule must usually fall within that space of time. But to associate the 

' The Passing of the European Age. Eric Fischer. Cambridge, 1948, p. 191. 


highest achievements with any one form of rule would be difficult, if 
only from a lack of agreement as to what the highest achievements are. 

The plan of this book, it will be seen, is analytical. It is not to the 
purpose to predict the future or recommend some particular form of 
rule. There is included, however, an epilogue which concerns the 
present. This is not designed as a remedy for present ills but merely 
as a plea for studying them in a more scientific way. 

The author's thanks are due to his pupils at the University of 
Malaya, with many of whom these problems have been discussed; 
to his secretary, Mrs. Y. J. G. Lawton, without whose tireless help the 
book would still be no more than a mass of illegible notes; and to 
Ann, who has had to be very, very patient. 

C. NoRTHCOTE Parkinson 

University of Malaya 


Primitive Man 

IN the Introduction to a recent work on social anthropology, 
already mentioned in the Preface/ the editors state that 'We do 
not consider that the origins of primitive institutions can be dis- 
covered and, therefore, we do not think it worth while seeking for 
them'. This may be true. It need not, however, prevent us from 
noting what appear to be the basic characteristics of man, considered 
from a political point of view. It is hardly in question, for example, 
that men have always (since being recognisable as men) lived in 
groups of some kind, family groups or tribes. Man is thus a social 
animal, although less so perhaps than some other creatures, especially 
certain insects. Man is also carnivorous, able to live on either a meat 
or a vegetable diet but equipped with teeth different from those of a 
grass-eating animal. Some at least of his food has always been trapped 
or pursued, fished or shot. Then again, the young of the human 
family (born singly, for the most part, not in a litter) are helpless for 
an exceptionally long period, needing protection and care for many 
years and maturing very slowly indeed. 

These physical facts have their political implications. Among 
carnivorous creatures with slowly-maturing young there must be a 
fairly sharp differentiation between the sexes. With the young to be 
fed, nursed and protected, the more active pursuits must be left to 
the male. In hunting and kindred activities men have therefore felt 
superior to women. As against that, women and children must be 
kept out of danger if the family group is to survive. If men are killed 
in hunting, the survivors may still be enough for breeding purposes. 
The same is not true of women, upon whose number the natural 
increase must depend. Add to this differentiation of the sexes the 
prolonged differentiation between the adult and the young. Human 
children must be taught (and therefore controlled) for so long that 
their subordination becomes habitual. And this obedience to those 
older and more skilled may survive after the child has become an 
adult. In the social group a certain authority is thus vested in the 
older members. 

The authority of age merges into the parental authority. Although 

' African Political Systems. Ed. by M. Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard. Oxford, 
1940, 4th Impression, 1950. 



primitive people often fail to recognise paternity, developing com- 
munities have all come to see in it a heightening of the authority of 
age in the special relationship between father and child. ^ It is this 
relationship which provides us with our basic notions of authority 
and disciphne. Nearly all our common terms of respect are derived 
from it. We have thus the words 'Sir' (Sire), 'Monsieur', 'Little 
Father' (in Russian), 'Father' as addressed to a priest or 'Holy 
'Father' as addressed to the Pope. Psychologists break up the idea of 
respect into the three elements of wonder, affection and fear. The 
child thus feels for his father some wonder at the ability of an older 
person to do what the child cannot; some affection for an older person 
whose intention is at least to ensure the child's survival; and some 
fear of an older person who may punish the child by smacking its head. 

If physical characteristics have a bearing on political development, 
so no doubt have mental characteristics. It has thus been observed 
that man has taken about 500,000 years to evolve, of which period 
490,000 years passed before any sort of settled existence began and 
495,000 before writing was invented.^ So that all inherited charac- 
teristics are pre-civilised in origin. This is obviously true of the basic 
instincts of hunger, fear, hatred and sex; for these are shared with 
other animals. But man would seem to have, in addition, such ten- 
dencies as Animism, Taboo, Fear of the Unknown and Revenge. 
Animism is the ascribing to animals, mountains, wind and thunder 
the individual character man perceives in himself. The schoolboy, 
having named his bicycle, will soon endow it with a personality. 
Animistic objects invade the undergraduate's essay, all sorts of actions 
being ascribed to 'The Spirit of the Reformation' or 'The Soul of 
India'. A whole nation becomes personified in its king or its flag. 
Taboo represents a confusion of mind over ethical, moral or sacred 
matters. It takes the form of odd distinctions between what is 'pure' 
and 'impure'. It surrounds the crime of incest and befogs the question 
of whether a man should marry his deceased wife's sister. Fear of 
the unknown, the novel, the foreign, is a deeply implanted emotion 
from which few men are wholly free. And the primitive idea of 
revenge lurks behind our criminal law, our prisons and our gallows. 
These and other instincts inform the political ideas of mankind. 

The physical characteristics of man would seem obvious enough. 
They have often, however, been overlooked, as for example in the 
American Declaration of Independence, which reads : 'We hold these 
truths to be self-evident, that men are born equal. . . .' Whatever else 

' Matriarchy appears to be an earlier institution but the term is misleading as applied, 
for example, to certain districts of Malaya. Matriarchy there means primarily the 
inheritance of property through women and dates presumably from a period when 
descent through the male line could not be traced. 

- The Mind in the Making. J. H. Robinson. New York, 1939, p. 65. 


that first truth may be it is not self-evident. It might perhaps be 
defended in terms of Christian or Islamic theology. Taken, however, 
from its religious context, it becomes difficult to sustain. Are 'men', 
in this sense, to include women? If so, their equality is doubtful now 
and was firmly denied in eighteenth century America. Are 'men' to 
include persons of the age of twenty or less? For these are not, and 
never have been, politically or even legally equal to adults. Are 
younger brothers equal, for that matter, to elder brothers? They were 
certainly not so in English or American law. Lastly, are 'men' in this 
sense, to include negroes? The Americans of Washington's generation 
had a prompt answer to that. But what becomes of the grand 
generalisation when the exceptions to it include the majority of 
mankind? A Christian will assert that all souls are equally valuable 
in the sight of God: but that equality is lost when one child is 
baptised and another not. Nearest perhaps to the truth was the 
Indian thinker Asvaghosa, who asserted that human beings are 'in 
respect of joy and sorrow, love, insight, manners and ways, death, 
fear and life all equal'. ^ But this philosopher, while attacking caste, 
says nothing of the other basic inequalities; the differentiation be- 
tween male and female functions, the subordination of child to 
parent, the subordination of the young to any elder person and the 
subordination of the younger child to the elder. One might find a 
further inequality based upon the size of family, for the child who is 
one of fourteen is less valuable to its parents than the child who is 
one of two or the only one of its sex. 

Our knowledge about the political ideas of primitive man goes 
little beyond our awareness of the basic characteristics which we still 
possess. What knowledge we have has been confused, moreover, by 
the persistent and widespread legend of the Golden Age. This legend, 
known to the Greeks, was also believed among the Indians and 
Chinese and can be paralleled by the Jewish story of the Garden of 
Eden and the Fall. The Hindu version of this legend is thus described 
by Beni Prasad : — 

In a passage of poetic brilliance the Vanaparva records how in very 
ancient days men lived a pure godly life. They were, in fact, equal to 
gods. They could ascend to heaven and return to earth at will. The 
wishes of all were fulfilled. Sufferings were few and real trouble or fear 
was none. Perfect virtue and happiness reigned. The span of life 
extended over thousands of years. But all this was changed after a 
long while. The Santi-parva, too, has it that there was at first a sort of 
Golden Age wherein existed neither sovereignty nor king, neither 
chastisement nor chastiser. All men used to protect one another 
righteously. But after a while their hearts were assailed by error. 

' Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. See p. 219. 


Their faculties of perception were clouded; their virtue declined; 
greed and avarice set in. The downward course continued. . . .^ 
He refers to the same legend elsewhere, stating that: 

The Buhaddharma Purana, an Upapriana, gives its political theory 
in the form of a narration of the ancient history of the human race. 
The world began with the golden age called Satya Yuga which was free 
from all sorrow and sin, disease and disputes. It was a heaven of 
perfect virtue and happiness. . . .^ 

The anthropologist of to-day is less prone to enthusiasm about 
such equality as exists among primitive peoples. Even Darwin ob- 
served that the equality observable among the Fuegian tribes 'must 
for a long time retard their civilisation'.^ More recently, Landtman 
has pointed out* that such equality as exists among the Papuans, 
Bushmen, Hottentots, Nagas, Andamanese and other peoples is 
directly associated with their low degree of culture. The emergence 
of the idea of rank is connected with 'a somewhat higher degree of 

The Chinese Golden Age was described by Kwang-Tze, follower 
of Lao-Tze (604-532 b.c.) in a passage which has been rendered 
thus: — 

In the age of perfect virtue, men attached no value to wisdom. . . . 
They were upright and correct, without knowing that to be so was 
Righteousness: they loved one another, without knowing that to do so 
was Benevolence: they were honest and loyal-hearted, without know- 
ing that it was Loyalty; they fulfilled their engagements without 
knowing that to do so was Good Faith. . . .^ 

This legend found ready acceptance in the eighteenth century, 
when talk about the 'Noble Savage' was not uncommon among 
literary men who had read Captain Cook's description of the South 
Sea Islanders. More recently, moreover, it has been defended by 
W. J. Perry and G. Elliot Smith, who attributed great virtues to 
primitive peoples, asserting that 'savages', whose merits were less 
obvious, had once been civilised and are thus degenerate rather than 
primitive. Of this theory it may suffice to say that while some primi- 
tive people might be shown to have been honest, inoffensive, 
contented and mild, they can also be shown to have been thin, small, 
hungry, dirty and diseased, and their life 'poore, nasty, brutish and 
short'. *^ 

The modern anthropologist is less inclined to draw distinctions 
between primitive people and savages. He is more hesitant in fact 

' I hid., p. 27. 

- Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad, p. 193. 

' Journal of Re.searche.s. C. Darwin, Chapter X. 

' The Origin of the Inequality of the Social Clas.'^es. G. Landtman. London, 1938, p. 3 

' Human History. G. Elliot Smith, p. 182. 

'■ Leviathan. T. Hobbcs. Part L Chap. XIII. 


about generalising in any context. To early political institutions, 

moreover, he has given perhaps less attention than to anything else. 

The following passage, however, quoted from a standard work, may 

typify the views that are currently held: — 

Among simpler primitives there are above all two principles which 
form the foundation of government: first, the territorial principle — 
that is, the geographically limited area belonging to a number of 
people: second, the community which exceeds the single family, be it 
local group, clan, tribe or people. On these two pillars repose the 
governmentlike institutions of primitive cultures. . . . 
... In Australia and among some other food-gathering tribes the 
executive agencies of public opinion were the old men who, seasoned 
in life and in the tribal laws, not only informed the younger ones 
concerning the boundaries of the clan territory, but also instructed 
them in the laws of marriage, the rites of initiation, the distribution of 
food — all those norms existing from time immemorial. 

Our sources report unanimously that chieftainship was slightly 
developed or absent. . . .^ 

Whether or not food-gathering peoples lived (or still live) in a 
Golden Age, it seems generally agreed that their main political 
institution was merely the authority of the older men. Nor is this 
difficult to understand, for family groups which are to live on wild 
fruit, berries, roots, game and fish cannot grow to beyond a certain 
size. With a larger number than about twenty the food would be 
insufficient near any one camp in the recognised hunting-ground. 
And among as small a number as they were likely to muster the 
problems of government need hardly arise. Typical of food-gatherers 
are the Semang (or Negritos) of Malaya, about which people a great 
deal has been written. In 1926, it is true, Mr. R. J. Wilkinson re- 
marked that 'with all this mass of literature we know next to nothing 
about the aborigines . . . books are big when facts are few'" but more 
detailed work was afterwards done by Ivor H. N. Evans.^ He wrote 
of them that: 

. . . The groups seem to be but little organised, but in every camp will 

be found an acknowledged headman and often, too, a 'medicineman' 

who is also an important personage in the life of the people. . . . 

The Semang can be readily contrasted with the rather more 

advanced aboriginal tribes, inaccurately termed the Sakai. These have 

a rather more settled existence, with a little agriculture, and with 

them the chief and the medicine-man are more firmly established. 

Of them Wilkinson wrote: — 

... we find that the smallest political unit among the central Sakai is 

' General Anthropology. Ed. by Franz Boas. New York, 1938. Chap. X. Government 
by Julius E. Lips. See pp. 487-527. 

-Papers on Malay Subjects: the Aboriginal Tribes. R. J. Wilkinson. 1926. p. 10. 
" The Negritos of Malaya. Ivor H. N. Evans. Cambridge, 1937. 


the family-group. Every family — by which is meant a living patriarch 
and all his descendants and not a mere menage of husband and wife — 
keeps together and keeps to itself: it does not unite with others for 
mutual protection and social intercourse. Exogamy means marrying 
into another family, not into another tribe. A number of these family- 
units living within a definite area and recognising a common hereditary 
chief make up the Sakai State — if such a term is permissible in the 
case of so small a community. . . . [The Chief] settles disputes between 
one family and another, and keeps peace generally in his tribe. . . . 
Within the family-group property was held in common; and the 
unsuccessful hunter . . . [received his share of the food]. 
. . . Communistic ideas are strong among the Sakai. At the same time, 
their Communism does not imply liberty, equality and fraternity. 
There is a vast amount of ceremonious family etiquette and a host of 
technicalities regulating the mode of address of one member of the 
family to another. It is a serious offence for a young . . . [Sakai] to 
address an elder by his personal name. . . .^ 

If a state is recognisable by 'the maintenance of political order 
within fixed territorial limits' the Sakai may be said to have formed 
states. These states remain, however, in a very rudimentary form. 

IMention has already been made of the 'medicineman', the sooth- 
sayer, wizard or magician, who figures in some of the most primitive 
societies and rather gains in importance as their culture becomes 
more advanced. His functions arise perhaps mainly from two innate 
characteristics of man; the tendency to fear such natural phenomena 
as thunder and lightning, and the tendency to dream at night. Of the 
Semang Wilkinson writes," 'He fears lightning and thunder to such an 
extent that observers have credited him with the possession of a 
thunder-god'. If thunder thus gives rise to the idea of a god of wrath, 
dreams as naturally promote ideas of ghosts and immortality. The 
'spirit' is thus the real self, the something which is absent when a 
person is asleep. Where is it? That it is free to wander is shown by 
the sleeper dreaming of being somewhere else and proved again when 
someone else has dreamt of him. On death, the same spirit is again 
missing and can still appear in another's dream — proof sufficient that 
it still exists. Here are good grounds for belief in an after-life. Evans 
is able to devote twelve chapters of his book to Negrito religion, 
chapters which cover the deities, a theory of the world's origin and 
theories of death, burial and the life to come. The Negritos have 
elaborate stories also to account for thunder, lightning, storms and 
eclipses. They have, too, a fairly long list of things that they must not 
say, do, eat or touch; and the penalties for a breach of etiquette 
illustrate their principal fears — illness, being crushed under a falling 

' Wilkinson, op. cit. p. 48. 

- Papers on Malay Subjects: the Aboriginal Tribes. R. J. Wilkinson. 1926. p. I. 


tree or being killed by a tiger. The Sakai are more superstitious still, 
believing not only in the Sun God and Moon Goddess but also in 
demons, ghosts, vampires, dragons, man-eating monkeys, giant birds 
and were-tigers. The communal wizard, known at least among the 
Semang, is a key man among the Sakai. 

The soothsayer found, as he gained influence, that there were two 
policies open to him. In the first place, while emphasising the danger 
of demons and ghosts, he could offer various charms and incantations 
which defeat the evil spirits by their own power; many comparable 
devices still linger (for example, mascots, crossing the fingers, 
throwing salt over the shoulder). In the second place, he could 
assert that the benevolent Sun or Moon God was more powerful 
than the demons and would protect those who approached him in 
the right way, by personal appeal and with suitable gifts. The 
magician who followed the first policy was the forerunner of the 
scientist, the physician and the psychologist. The soothsayer who 
preferred the second policy was the forerunner of the priest. Generally 
speaking, the priest has been more honest, and (until recently) more 

The classic work by Sir James Frazer^ is a study in the relationship 
between magic and religion, between both and kingship. In it he 
shows that all or most peoples have believed at one time in magic and 
that most of these have gradually transferred their belief to religion, 
often for long periods believing in both. He remarks that the sorcerer 
came to practise for the whole community as well as privately. 

Whenever ceremonies of this sort are observed for the common 
good, it is obvious that the magician ceases to be merely a private 
practitioner and becomes to some extent a public functionary. The 
development of such a class of functionaries is of greet importance for 
the political as well as the religious evolution of society. For when the 
welfare of the tribe is supposed to depend on the performance of these 
magical rites, the magician rises into a position of much influence and 
repute, and may readily acquire the rank and authority of a chief or 
king. The profession accordingly draws into its ranks some of the 
ablest and most ambitious men of the tribe. . . . 

This may well have been so. It is important, however, to realise, 
that the really primitive tribe had little to offer its magician. The 
Chiefship to which he might aspire (and very occasionally with suc- 
cess, as in Kedah) carried with it no very despotic power. The rising 
importance of the medicine-man depended, in fact, on a change in 
the habits of the tribe. While the people remained in small family 
groups of food-gatherers, the potentialities of both chief and magician 

' The Golden Bough: a study in magic and religion. Sir James George Frazer. See 
Chapter IV. 


were, of necessity, undeveloped. The story would be simpler if all 
food-gathering peoples had developed in the same way from the point 
at which they abandoned their primitive existence. In fact, however, 
they could progress in two different ways, if indeed they were to 
progress at all. Some concentrated on the domestication of animals 
and became nomadic herdsmen. Others, given different opportunities, 
became cultivators of the soil. In either event, the change of habits 
brought with it important political consequences, but these were not 
identical as between cultivators and pastoralists. To some extent they 
diverged and it is upon this divergence that some writers have laid 
the greatest stress. The divergence itself is fitly symbolised in the 
biblical story of Cain and Abel which rightly follows after the story 
of a primeval innocence. The danger here is to over-simplify both the 
divergence and its results. For while conflict between pastoralists and 
cultivators tended to follow, the latter being usually vanquished, it 
would be wrong to maintain that this was invariable. Professor 
Franz Oppenheimer maintained^ that all states known to history are 
thus characterised by the domination of one class by another for the 
purpose of economic exploitation. And Professor R. H. Lowie 
agreed at least that the subjection of one people to another had its 
origin in conquest.'- More has since been discovered, however, about 
the development of societies in both America and Africa and it is 
now clear that there are exceptions to every rule.^ 

Important among recent studies is that made of African Political 
Systems under the editorship of M. Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard.^ 
This study summarises what is known about the political institutions 
of eight African peoples. Three of these, the Bantu Kavirondo, the 
Tallensi and the Nuer, developed no government save by elders 
within the separate tribes. The other five, the Zulu, Ngwato, Bemba, 
Ankole and Kede, developed quite advanced forms of government 
but not in such a way as to justify any very general conclusions. 
While it is true that some of these peoples are cultivators, and others 
herdsmen — with at least one example of pastoralists (Bahima) 
dominant over agriculturalists (Bairu) — it is also evident that they 
present no sharp distinction between each other in political structure. 
This would seem to suggest that generalisations hitherto made about 
the political tendencies of pastoral peoples are not applicable to 
herdsmen as such but to nomadic horsemen. To find the equivalent 
in Africa of the Semitic nomads we should perhaps turn rather to the 
Fulbe who founded the Sokoto empire in the early nineteenth 

' Der Staat (1907) quoted in The Origin of the State. R. H. Lowie. New York, 1927. 

- The Origin of the State. R. H. Lowie. New York, 1927. p. 42. 

' General Anthropology, op. cit. p. 526. 

' African Political Systems. Oxford, 1940. 4th Impression, 1950. 


Sir Henry Maine drew a contrast between the blood tie typical of 
nomadic people and the territorial tie found among agriculturalists,^ 
and in general his ideas are still agreed. 

Herdsmen and related societies. 

. . . The individual and the patriarchal family group are the outstanding 
feature. The older coUectivist element is replaced by individualism. 
The social unit is the patriarchal family group (brothers, nephews, 
sons, grandsons) which also claims to political independence. The tribe 
is headed by a chief who has been elected or whose office is hereditary. 
. . . Typical among the herdsmen is, above all, the development of 
private ownership and the accumulation of wealth in the form of 
stock. This at the same time presented the opportunity of developing 
class distinctions and of a vertical stratification of society, a differ- 
entiation of rich and poor. These beginnings of a hierarchic system 
among the herdsmen did not flourish until they came in contact with 
the agricultural societies. The law of inheritance in most of these 
tribes is marked by primogeniture. 

The societies of herdsmen of the Old World brought about a political 
revolution by the creation of large empires in Asia as well as in 

This last statement is, no doubt, true. But was the revolution due 
to their being herdsmen or to their having horses? The point is an 
interesting one for it is rather questionable whether the preceding 
remarks, applicable to Central Asia, Siberia, Arabia and Mesopo- 
tamia, are in fact equally true of Africa. Of the eight African peoples 
to which we have referred the Zulu come nearest, perhaps, to being 
purely pastoral. But of them it is stated by Max Gluckman that 
'The clans had disappeared as units', and 'members of a single clan 
might be found in many political groups'.^ He also remarks that 
'there were few ways in which a commoner could acquire wealth'* 
and that the wealth of a chief did not give him 'opportunity to live at 
a higher level than his inferiors'.^ He explains, further, that 'there was 
no class snobbery among the Zulu' and that 'all had the same educa- 
tion and lived in the same way'. If the Africans turn out to be poor 
examples of 'herdsmen', the factor which links the other 'herdsmen' 
may be found to be, not cattle but horses, and there are reasons 
for supposing that this might well be so. In the following pages 
where 'pastoral peoples' are mentioned they must be taken to mean 
nomadic horsemen, and not merely the owners of cattle. 

To summarise the conclusions so far reached, primitive men are 
found to base their political institutions, such as they are, upon the 

' See Ancient Law. Chapter IV. 

- General Anthropology, op. cit. p. 515 et sea. ' 

' African Political Systems, op. cit. pp. 28-29. ', ^ ' ' 

' Ibid. p. 45. ' ' , . 

' Ibid. p. 44. , \ / ' ^ 



authority of age. They are essentially social and tend to develop 
family groups which are migrant within a recognised territory. If 
there is a larger tribal organisation the chief of it rarely has more than 
a vague power of arbitration. They have basic instincts common to 
other animals but these do not necessarily make them warlike; and 
many of them are essentially peaceful. They have a strong belief in 
the supernatural, a belief which tends to strengthen as their culture 
becomes more advanced. Thus, the soothsayer or magician, not un- 
known among the most primitive of them, becomes more important 
among those who have progressed. This progress, if and when it 
takes place, may be in one of two general directions; towards the 
domestication of animals or towards the growing of crops, the choice 
being governed by climatic and other conditions. And the further 
political development of each group is influenced by the change in its 
way of life, the pastoralists diverging most sharply from the culti- 
vators as from the time when they become accustomed to using 
horses. Even from as brief a summary as this it is manifest that many 
later institutions are not the result of individual inspiration but are 
deeply rooted in the social character of mankind. At no time did 
primitive men attempt to frame a constitution for their body politic. 
They had their basic institutions from the beginning, moulded by 
their physical and mental characteristics and observable among the 
most primitive of them. Their further ideas were bounded and guided 
by a framework which was already there. 


I I \ \\ 




Monarchy among Agricultural Peoples 

AGRICULTURE is traditionally thought to have originated in 
L Egypt about 5000 b.c.^ the local legend about it being thus 
rendered by Plutarch : 

When Osiris came to his kingdom ... [he found] . . . the Egyptians 
living a life such as animals lead. He taught them the art of agriculture, 
gave them laws, and instructed them in the worship of the gods [of 
which he was to become one of the chief]. 

It is unlikely that one genius taught the Egyptians everything, but 
there is significance in the sequence of progress as here defined: 
agriculture, laws, religion. For agriculture indeed came first and with 
vast and immediate implications. Elliot Smith supposes that barley 
grew wild on the Nile banks, being developed through periodic floods 
and then spread by irrigation. He points out, moreover, following 
Professor Cherry, that the Nile is unique, not only in flowing from 
the tropics into a temperate zone but in having a double water- 
supply. Thus the equatorial sources maintain a steady flow while the 
floods in August and September come from the Blue Nile, at other 
times nearly dry. The inundation in September immediately precedes 
the cool part of the year, which begins in October. These conditions, 
he argues, ideally suited for the cultivation of millet and barley, are 
found in no other part of the world. Be that as it may, agriculture 
spread from Egypt, and perhaps from other centres, and transformed 
the lives of people everywhere. Nor would it affect the present 
argument if it were shown that agriculture was developed indepen- 
dently in more regions than one. 

The political implications of an agricultural life are bound up, to 
begin with, in the settlement of communities in a given place and not 
merely within a given area. Agriculture necessitated the formation of 
villages — sited in the Nile Valley, it is believed, on the higher contours 
above flood level. Villages dependent upon agriculture could be far 

' There is no certainty that it did not originate also in Mesopotamia, nor indeed that 
it did not originate in Syria, spreading thence to both Egypt and Mesopotamia. U has 
been pointed out that a form of wheat grows wild on the slopes of Mount Herman and 
elsewhere between southern Syria and Moab. Early Man, his origin, development and 
culture. G. Elliot Smith and others. London, 1931. See especially Lecture V by 
H. J. E. Peake p. 122. 



more populous than any encampment previously formed — there 
would be food for a greater number. Then, cultivation of the land 
soon necessitates fences and boundaries, primarily to keep animals 
out of the crops but leading naturally to a new idea of property and 
hence of law. As agriculture develops the need arises for the carpenter 
and metal-worker (to make and mend the implements), the builder 
(to construct the granary), the watchman (to guard it) and the lawyer 
(to settle boundary disputes). A new need arises for a calendar, by 
which to judge when to plant, and a new and intense interest is shown 
in sun and water. The weather becomes that absorbing topic of 
conversation that it has ever since remained. 

Another result of a people turning to agriculture is that religion 
tends to become more important than magic. The primitive man 
food-gathering in the jungle is concerned with his personal or family 
luck. He may find fruit or edible roots. He may come across a sitting 
target for his arrow. But he may equally meet a tiger, a cobra, a 
ghost or a demon. The cultivator, by contrast, has helped to clear an 
area of land, perhaps pushing back the jungle. He works thence- 
forward in fields well known to him. The risk of meeting something 
unpleasant is greatly reduced and so likewise is the chance of an 
unexpected windfall. He has planted seed and chiefly wants a good 
crop. And the good or bad weather which affects one group will 
probably affect other groups as well. The cultivator is less concerned 
with the tiresome spirits which haunt trees, hills, wells and cemeteries 
and proportionately more interested in the beneficent gods who 
govern the sowing, the growth and the harvest. The task of persuad- 
ing the Sun God to ripen the grain is not the individual's or family's 
responsibility, for all alike are involved. It is a communal matter, best 
handled by an expert interceding on behalf of the village. The sooth- 
sayer entrusted with this task is inevitably more priest than magician, 
a public officer and one of growing importance. Magic lingers in the 
hills and forests and among wandering folk like gypsies. It lingers too 
in the normal human mind. But religion became predominant as from 
the period when men turned to agriculture. 

There can be little doubt that the change which favoured the priest 
also favoured the chief. The agricultural unit, the village, was larger 
than the family group and offered more scope to a ruler. And it 
offered him still wider scope when it developed into a town and, later, 
into a city. Apart from that, however, the agriculture which depended 
upon irrigation more than upon local rainfall brought many villages 
into close association. In some respects their interests might be the 
same. In other respects their interest were more likely to conflict. 
The economic unit, for purposes of irrigation, would ideally com- 
prise the whole river system. It could certainly be nothing as small as 


a village. A more extended political power would go to the man with a 
calendar or else to the man who first discovered the principles of 
irrigation. Kingship might have grown from that alone, but in Egypt 
the powers of the priest were added to those of the chief. Either the 
priest secured the office of ruler or else it was the ruler who assumed 
priesthood. In Egypt, at any rate, Kingship was the result of com- 
bining the two functions in one. It is clear, however, that the religious 
function was regarded as the more important. The King-Priest's first 
duty was to intercede with the Sun God. He might incidentally rule the 
country but that was, by comparison, a trivial duty. Why should the 
Sun God listen to him? For the same reason that a human chief or 
patriarch will listen to a request — because it is made by his son. It 
follows that the King is the son of the god. One can readily imagine 
an astute ruler explaining this theory to his subjects. In fact, however, 
it is still more likely that it was they who explained it to him. 

The Sun God cult is believed to have originated at Heliopolis, 
together with the solar calendar. 

. . . The man who had made himself the artificer of the new order also 
made himself king. When he foretold the future behaviour of the river 
and measured the year, his subjects believed that he was something 
more than a prophet : he was the cause of the changes he had accurately 
predicted. People believed that the king controlled the forces of Nature. 
He not only caused the river to rise, and then made the dry land, but 
by so doing this, they imagined, he created the earth, and conferred 
upon the waters their life-giving powers.^ 

It has been questioned indeed whether any people carried this cult 
as far as did the Egyptians. 

The Egyptians of the Fifth Dynasty thus had thorough-going ideals 
of the divine nature of their kings, and it is doubtful whether the 
identity between royalty and divinity was carried so far in any other 
state. 'The Egyptians dare not look at their king. The king could 
bring on rain, make sunshine ... he was master of thunder ... he bran- 
dishes his sceptre like a thunderbolt. As king of the harvest he turns 
over the earth and presides over the sowing. Sickle in hand he cuts the 
grain'. From him therefore could be expected the same benefits as from 
the gods themselves.^ 

The Egyptians may have originated kingship and carried the cult 
furthest, but all ancient monarchies, almost without exception, were 
ruled by Children of the Sun. Perry traces the idea to India, to Indo- 
nesia (including Timor, Celebes and Bali), to the Philippines, to 
Polynesia, to Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa and the New World. It is 

' Human History. G. Elliot Smith. London, 1930. p. 277 

- The Children of the Sun. W. J. Perry. 2nd ed. London, 1927. 


implicit in the Chinese conception of Heaven, to which only the 
Emperor could sacrifice. As for the Japanese, they have retained the 
cult almost to this day. A celebrated Japanese wrote of his country :— 

Great Yamato is a divine country. It is only our land whose foun- 
dations were first laid by the divine ancestor. It alone has been trans- 
mitted by the sun goddess to a long line of her descendants. There is 
nothing of this kind in foreign countries.^ 

Here the author is mistaken. All dynasties used to trace their 
pedigree to a divine ancestor. It is also important to realise that what 
is outmoded now in the cult was once a brilliant innovation and the 
very thing that distinguished a civilised people from those less 
advanced. As a modern author has well expressed it: — 

The ancient Near East considered kingship the very basis of 
civilization. Only savages could live without a king. Security, peace and 
justice could not prevail without a ruler to champion them. If ever a 
political institution functioned with the assent of the governed, it 
was the monarchy which built the pyramids with forced labor. . . .^ 

While it might be safe to assume that monarchy was usually the 
result of the chief assuming the functions of priest, the deified 
monarchy of Egypt seems to date from the period during which a 
high-priest of the Sun God made himself the ruler. Userkaf, who 
founded the fifth dynasty in about 2750 B.C., had been high-priest at 
Heliopolis. He is believed to have been the first Pharaoh to claim 
divine descent.^ Previous rulers were divine, no doubt, but not until 
after death. The combining of the priestly and secular powers had 
been known also in the Sumerian cities but due to the opposite 
process. 'The Sumerian patesi was a magistrate who performed 
sacred or priestly functions; the kings of the fifth dynasty were 
priests who had usurped royal powers'.* 

In Egypt the Chief and the Priest had thus become united in the 
person of the King and there can be no doubt that the strongest 
monarchies were those founded in this way. But there were from the 
beginning the monarchies in which the priestly power was vested 
separately. This was so in India and at least one story of how 
monarchy originated there would make its purpose more strictly 

. . . Another theory of the origin of the state which Mahabharata has 
preserved brings us a little nearer Hobbes. It paints the state of nature 
not as a Golden Age of righteousness but as a period of terrible 
anarchy. ... So they lived for a while but, after some time, they felt 

' The Pageant of Japanese History. M. M. Dilts. New York, 1938. 

- Kingship and the Gods. Henri Frankfort. Chicago, 1945. 

" See Priests and Kings by Harold Peake and H. J. Fleure. Oxford, 1927. 

* Priests and Kings, op cit. pp. 177-178. 


acutely the need of a king. They assembled and approached the Grand- 
sire, saying, 'Without a king, O Divine Lord, we are going to destruc- 
tion. Appoint some one as our king! All of us shall worship him and he 
shall protect us'. The Grandsire nominated Manu to be king but 
Manu replied 'I fear all sinful acts. To govern a kingdom is exceedingly 
difficult, especially among men who are always false and deceitful in 
their behaviour'. [But he was persuaded into it and given the following 
encouragement: — ] 'Like the sun scorching everything with his rays, 
go out for winning victories, crush the pride of foes and let righteous- 
ness always triumph'.^ 

There is much that is of interest in this account and much that can 
be paralleled by the Old Testament story of how the Jewish kingship 
was founded. To begin with, a divine Grandsire was there already 
when the clamour began. Symbolically at least this would seem to be 
correct. It was from the patriarch that the king took his idea of 
authority, claiming afterwards to be 'the father of his people'. Apart 
from this, the proposal to appoint a king (if ever such a proposal was 
made) could come only from a people to whom the idea of monarchy 
was familiar. This would mean virtually copying from another and 
adjacent people: a procedure the more understandable if the people 
in question were thought to be hostile. The Jews, for example, are 
described as asking Samuel to choose a king for them. On his ex- 
pressing reluctance, they said 'Nay; but we will have a king over us; 
that we also may he like all the nations; and that our king may judge 
us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. . . ."- The words 
italicised suggest how readily the institution of monarchy might 
spread by imitation. 

India provides the best, though not perhaps the only example of 
monarchy kept distinct from priesthood. There is much in the 
relationship which the Indians themselves are unable to explain. 

The professional priesthood is seen practically from the very begin- 
ning of the Rig Veda period. Its position is entirely separate from that 
of monarchy. The fact is somewhat puzzling in conception. A study of 
the earliest organization of the other branches of the Aryan family 
reveals the fact that the original leader was the king, the priest and the 
head of the fighting host; and there is nothing to suppose that the 
particular branch that came to India began with a special polity or 
stepped lightly over some of the stages while retaining fully the 
wisdom derived from the experience of each. The latter fact is clear 
from the subsequent history of the race during which, in spite of the 
predominant influence of the priests (the Brahmanas), there was no 
attempt on their part to become king de jure, although they wielded, 
through their influence on the ruler, all the powers of the king. Any 

' The Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. p. 29. 
- Samuel, 8, verses 4-20. 


explanation, however, of the early separation of priesthood from 
kingship in India must be conjectural; there is no record previous to 
the Rig Veda, and in the Rig Veda it is recognized as an established 
institution. . . .^ 

So in India the king was less than a god and less, in some ways, 
than the Brahmans. Elsewhere, however, the king was godlike, but 
in an age when the gods retained some very human characteristics 
and failings. The idea of the king's sanctity still, for that matter, 

But if ideas survive, men do not, and early history is full of the 
efforts made to explain the death of a supposedly immortal Sun 
King. In point of fact, the king often died before his time owing to a 
drought or excess of rainfall which he might have averted but did not. 
His office was not without its occupational risks. As recently, more- 
over, as 1890, a Malayan Annual Report contains the statement that 
a series of bad harvest had been attributed locally to the evil influence 
of the British Resident. One way or another, then, the king even- 
tually died. The situation could be met in several ways. It was possible, 
first of all, to preserve his body and maintain firmly that he was still 
alive. Next, it could be argued that he had become a god — that he 
had been a god all along, in fact — and that he had returned to the 
home of the gods. Lastly, it could be claimed that he had been re- 
incarnated in his successor, who was in fact the same man but now 
provided with a younger body. 

Exactly how the Egyptians reasoned, who favoured the first of these 
alternatives, may not be known. We know, however, that they buried 
their kings with great care, producing the earliest joiners and brick- 
makers for that special purpose. And they provided each dead king 
with his food, weapons, furniture and toilet articles. Efforts of this 
kind also included the elaborate methods of embalming by which 
mummies were preserved and the even more elaborate masonry built 
over the grave, initially, to prevent the treasure from being stolen. 
With the Dynastic Egyptians monumental masonry became the chief 
national industry. Something of the same treatment has been 
accorded in many lands to the dead, and not only to the dead of 
royal birth. Primitive peoples have funeral rites based clearly on the 
belief that the spirit survives death. The Scandinavians gave their dead 
leaders a Viking's funeral and the Chinese still burn at funerals the 
pasteboard replicas of things — including motor-cars — which may be 
needed in the next world. The custom is understandable and especially 
so where royalty is concerned. The Incas of Peru were also preserved 

' Indo- Aryan Polily, being a slitdy of the economic and political condition of India as 
depicted in the Rig Veda. P. Basu. London, 1925. It is rash, however, to generalise too 
confidently. See, for example, A History of Hindu Political Theories. V. Ghoshal. 
Oxford, 1923. p. 228. 


after death and periodically exhibited, and something of the same 
practice lingers, it is said, in University College, London. The 
deceased monarch is not really allowed to die. 

The second theory, by no means inconsistent with the first, made 
the king a god and not merely a descendant of the gods. The 
Egyptian Osiris was thus a Deified King and the position was in- 
herited by his Roman successors, Julius Caesar and Augustus, who 
were deified when they died and thereafter worshipped. Nor have 
other kings been without supernatural powers; the Emperor of 
Japan, for example, being something more than a man. The theory 
that deifies a king on his death inevitably makes him superhuman 
even while he is alive. In many lands this attempt to invest the living 
king with a godlike quality has made the monarch a sort of idol, 
seen immobile on state occasions or possibly not seen at all. A 
sufficiently rigid etiquette may make it almost immaterial whether 
the idol is actually alive or dead. 

The third alternative has been fully described in The Golden 
Bough} and is again not inconsistent with the other two. The Egyp- 
tians portrayed their kings with a minimum of individuality, their 
sculptures depicting each as an impersonal image of kingship. 

. . . There is a mystic communion between father and son at the 
moment of succession, a unity and continuity of divine power which 
suggests a stream in which the individual rulers come and go like 
waves. ^ 

The whole process hinges on the moment of succession for which 
some smooth organisation seems essential. It is vital to know before- 
hand who the successor is to be and as vital to ensure that he is 
actually present. The easiest way to provide for this is to fix the date 
in advance, putting the old king to death at an agreed moment, with 
his successor at hand. (Why should the old king object? His soul is 
merely being transferred). This custom is closely connected with a 
popular interest in the king's virility. It was always doubted whether 
an old or ailing king could fulfil his main function of making the 
crops grow. Better, surely, to kill him in good time. Kings were thus 
despatched in Cambodia, Ethiopia, on the Congo and in other parts 
of Africa. One way was to wait until his powers failed, as was done at 
Shilluk on the White Nile. In Uganda, too, the King of Ankole was 
never allowed to die of illness or age. 'As soon as his wives and 
followers observed signs of weakness, the Mugabe was given a poison 
which brought about his death'. ^ Another way was to allow him a 

' The Golden Bough. Sir James Frazer. Chapter XXIV. p. 264 el seq. in the one- 
volume edition. 

' Kingship and the Gods. p. 35. 
° African Political Systems, p. 156. 


fixed term of office — twelve years in Calicut, nine years in Sweden, 
eight years in Sparta and five years in Malabar. Yet another was for 
the people to take action when they saw fit, as at Passier on the north 
coast of Sumatra. The king's spirit then passed to his successor, who 
might have to be present to catch his last breath. The successor might 
be his eldest son or possibly the man (probably a relative) who killed 
him. The succession, in any case, was instantaneous; as in England, 
for example, it still is. Some kings eventually found means to die by 
deputy. It was a policy which kings themselves may have been the 
first to propose. In Siam the king thus died (by deputy) each year at 
the end of April. In other instances the king would sacrifice a son as 
his deputy; obviously a better equivalent. There are traces of this 
custom in the Bible. It may have been a younger son who first 
suggested that an animal would do instead. Originally, however, such 
parodies of a godly custom would have been unacceptable. It has 
been pointed out that the Egyptian mode of address to their kings 
was not 'Majesty' but 'Embodiment' or 'Incarnation'. 

. . . They are not merely respectful phrases but phrases which 
emphasise that the earthly ruler incorporates an immortal god. The 
names of the individual kings serve only to distinguish the successive 

It cannot be sufficiently emphasised at this point that the primary 
functions of kingship, more especially in agricultural communities, 
were essentially religious. The temptation is to rationahse the story 
and explain that a king's leadership was necessary in war, or necessary 
indeed for many other practical purposes. Bernard Shaw said that 
rulers are so necessary 

. . . that any body of ordinary persons left without what they call 
superiors, will immediately elect them. A crew of pirates, subject to no 
laws except the laws of nature, will elect a boatswain to order them 
about and a captain to lead them and navigate the ship, though the 
one may be the most insufferable bully and the other the most 
tyrannical scoundrel on board. . . .^ 

Of modern society this may be true, but of primitive people it is 
certainly wrong. Peoples like the Nuer of the Southern Sudan have 
never appointed rulers. Nor have they, for any practical purpose, 
felt the need of them. 

On the other hand, the king, once provided for religious purposes, 
was often found useful in other ways. Leadership in war was not 
necessarily one of them. Kingship is almost certainly older than war. 
Nor, for that matter, has command been invariably vested in the king 

' Kingship and the Gods. p. 45. 

- The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, etc. G. B. Shaw. p. 335. 


even were he available and qualified. Thus we learn from the Old 
Testament that when David proposed to lead his armies in person, 
he was promptly overruled and told to stay at home.^ His first 
practical functions were as Judge and Lawgiver, derived in true 
succession from the patriarchal chief. At the root of all legal insti- 
tutions is the basic discovery that a verdict (whether right or wrong) 
is better than an endless quarrel. A common primitive method of 
settling a dispute was by augur or ordeal, with much the same effect 
as tossing a coin. The King's verdict might or might not be just but it 
had at least the merit of being final. It was the voice of God. There 
were kings, too, like Solomon, with as much reputation for justice 
as for finality. 

Kings were also lawgivers. Laws were many of them, originally, 
generalisations based on legal judgments in particular cases. Osiris 
taught the Egyptians agriculture, gave them laws, and instructed 
them in the worship of the gods. One of the earliest legal codes known 
dates from Babylon (2123-2081 B.C.) and is the work of a king and 
god, Hammurabi, who expresses in it the determination to 'uphold 
justice in the land', as befitted one who was 'High of purpose, great 
King, a very sun in Babylon'.^ The functions of lawgiver and judge 
were similarly identical in Egypt. 'During the period of the Old 
Kingdom Egypt was governed by a strictly absolute monarchy. The 
king was the sole legislator'.'^ And the laws, once issued, were the laws 
of God. 

In one other respect the king was extremely useful and that was in 
representing the unity of the area he governed. This was particularly 
important in Egypt, for example, where the Pharoah was always 
separately King of Upper and Lower Egypt. It was, in fact, a dual 
monarchy of which Horus and Seth were supposed to have been 
rulers.* There were two separate administrations and two treasuries. 
The Empire of the Incas was similarly called 'The-Four-in-One'. It 
has been the function of many later monarchies to unite their terri- 
tories in this way. Apart from that, the king, standing above the local 
or patriarchal chiefs, symbolises his people as a whole. They express 
their own unity in terms of their allegiance to him. 

Of the fictions designed to explain the king's death, the third and 
the most important implied the presence of an heir apparent. It was 
natural, if only for that reason, that the king should be expected to 
marry. This initially created a problem, for how could a common 
person marry a god? The Egyptians overcame this diflficulty by 

' II Samuel, 18, verses 2-4. 

- Babylonian and Assyrian Laws and Contracts, (ed.) C. W. H. Johns. Edinburgh, 1904. 
Quoted in Western Political Thought. John Bowie. London, 1947. pp. 30-31. 
' The Legacy of Egypt. Ed. -S. R. K. Gianviile. Oxford, 1942. 
^ Priests and Kings. H. Peake and H. J. Fleure. Oxford, 1927. p. 171. 


making their king marry his sister, a goddess in her own right. 
Exactly the same solution was found by the Incas in South America. 
Among them, the Emperor, descended from the Sun God, married 
his eldest sister and designated as his successor the ablest son by that 
first and principal wife.^ In other parts of the world the problem was 
simplified by the existence of other and adjacent kingdoms, allowing 
the divinely descended king to marry the daughter of another king, 
regarded for this purpose only as of almost equally divine descent. 
So Solomon, we learn 'made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, 
and took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her into the city of 
David"'^ — where, she was presumably annoyed to find, the palace was 
not even finished. Such a practice brought with it the opportunity, 
on occasion, of marrying the only child of another king and so ending 
as ruler of two kingdoms instead of one. As against this interesting 
possibility, marriage alliances might complicate foreign affairs in a 
manner neither expected nor desired. 

The marriage consummated, whether with a sister or a foreign 
royalty, children might be expected to result, not merely the son 
destined to succeed but other sons and daughters as well. These too 
will marry, some of them inevitably with commoners, producing 
children of partly royal descent. These are obvious candidates for 
official office, for persons of semi-divine descent cannot be allowed to 
starve or even to mingle on equal terms with the common people. 
As time goes on, to be descended from the gods becomes necessarily 
a characteristic of a wide and (widening) circle of relations. With a 
king like Solomon on the throne (with seven hundred wi\es and three 
hundred concubines) the process is likely to be accelerated. Should it 
become necessary, moreover, to promote some able commoner to a 
position higher than a minor royalty, he must be given a more than 
equivalent rank — perhaps with that fictitious cousinship which an 
English peerage still implies. The inference is that a monarchy by its 
very nature must create a nobility. 

The officials seem to have been originally relations of the royal 
house. They stand apart as a class — the Royal Kinsmen. In other 
words, those to whom power was delegated shared in some degree the 
mysterious essence which differentiated the king from all men. . . . 

As one of her main titles in the Old Kingdom the goddess of writing, 
Sethat, had 'Mistress of the Archives of the Royal Kinsmen', which 
would have been a kind of register of nobility, for no other hereditary 
nobility existed. . . . There were no classes or castes in Egypt. All were 

' Handbook of South American Indians. Ed. Julian H. Steward. VoL 2. The Andean 
Civilisation. Washington, 1946. (Smithsonian Institute). See also The Origin and History 
of Politics. W. C. MacLeod, New York, 1931. Chapter VI, pp. 213-220. These royal 
brother-sister marriages were found elsewhere in the Andes from Darien to the south 
of Peru. 

' I Kings, verse 3. 


commoners before the throne, except those in whose veins flowed 
some trace of the royal blood, however diluted. . . . The Royal 
Kinsmen would have formed a considerable class. 
... It need not astonish us, therefore, to find Royal Kinsmen even in 
minor posts in the provincial administration.^ 

Exactly the same thing happened in Peru except for the existence 
there of other nobles. The result was a nobility of two grades, the 
superior of which could trace their ancestry to a previous sovereign. 
As the Peruvian kings were polygamous and quite capable of be- 
getting up to two hundred children, the number of upper-grade nobles 
was far from negligible. Much the same thing happened even in 
societies far less advanced like that of the Zulu, in which the king was 

. . . head by descent of the powerful aristocratic Zulu lineage which was 
looked up to by all Zulu, and his position in the national organization 
was strengthened, since tribes scattered through Zululand were ruled 
by his close relatives, who were bound to him by strong kinship ties of 
mutual assistance and by their common membership of the royal 

In short, given a monarchy, a nobility is almost certain to follow. 

However divinely sanctioned, the Sun King could not rule a larger 
kingdom than the state of communications would allow. In an age of 
undeveloped roads, the ideal kingdom lay along the banks of a 
navigable river. The size of the kingdom depended essentially on the 
length of the river. The kingdoms of Egypt, Mesopotamia and India 
owed much of their importance to this. To develop a kingdom much 
beyond these original limits was something of a technical achievement, 
requiring perhaps (among other things) the art of writing. In the 
meanwhile the river kingdom was almost certain to develop a capital 
and this would bring with it a whole series of political needs, arising 
not from religious belief but from practical necessity. Without 
agriculture, however, no city, no civilisation, no village even, would 
have been possible. 

' Kingship and the Gods. H. Frankfort, pp. 52-53. See also Social Evolution. V. 
Gordon Childe. London, 1951. p. 61, on the difference between the tombs of pharaohs 
and nobles as contrasted with those of commoners. 

- African Political Systems, p. 35. 


Monarchy among Pastoral Peoples 

SOME people became herdsmen just as others became cultivators. 
There are vast stretches of Arabia, Palestine and Central Asia 
which afford grazing at one time of the year but offer little or no 
scope for agriculture. Peoples, therefore, who had domesticated 
cattle, sheep, goats, camels and horses specialised in moving between 
summer and winter pastures and in covering long distances where the 
grass is scanty. In their way of life they differed sharply from the 
cultivators, mainly in having no one settled home. Whereas the 
agriculturalist lived in one place and prayed for the rain to come at 
the proper time, the herdsman could go in search of it. His prayers 
and his religion were not, therefore, identical with those of the culti- 
vator. Politically too he was to develop on rather different lines. 

We have seen that the tendency of the cultivator was to transfer his 
loyalty from the family or kinship group to the unit of neighbourli- 
ness, the village. The revolutionary nature of this change must not be 
exaggerated. For one thing, the sense of neighbourhood must always 
have been there in some degree. For another, the sense of kinship still 
remained. Professor Lowie has pointed out that the two principles 
existed in sixth century Athens and that Solon had merely to 
strengthen the local tie as being politically more convenient. 

. . . The basic problem of the state is thus not that of explaining the 
somersault by which ancient peoples achieved the step from a govern- 
ment by personal relations to one by territorial contiguity only. The 
question is rather to show what processes strengthened the local tie 
which must be recognised as not less ancient than the rival principle.^ 

While some would disagree with this, holding that the tie of kinship 
is certainly the more ancient, it is at least true that the two principles 
of association co-existed for a long time, and indeed co-exist to-day. 
A Highland Scotsman's sense of loyalty to Clan Campbell or Mac- 
donald might even now conceivably outweigh his local patriotism as 
a municipal voter of Croydon. And while a village life may tend to 
weaken the sense of kinship, a nomadic life must equally tend to 
strengthen it. 

Social anthropologists distinguish two forms of family relation- 

' The Origin of the State. R. H. Lowie. New York, 1927. 



ship; the transient bilateral family, which they term the kinship 
system; and the grouping of persons by unilateral descent, which 
they term the lineage system. Only the latter, they say, establishes 
corporate units with a political function.^ The Clan, that is to say, 
does not include relatives on the mother's side. It comprises only 
persons with a male ancestor in common. Among nomadic peoples it 
is the clan in this sense which attracts the loyalty felt by the cultivator 
for his village.^ And the tribe, the political unit, is a group of clans, 
bound to each other by blood and often divided from other clans by 
blood-feuds. The Old Testament is essentially a tribal history and 
although the New Testament depicts the Jews as settled agricul- 
turalists, their tribal organization is still in existence and the descent 
of each tribesman (as of Christ himself) is known. 

The nomad has other characteristics besides his sense of kinship and 
lineage. He measures wealth in terms of cattle or other stock and 
wants few possessions unable to move on four legs. He is as unlikely 
to collect ohjets cVart as is a modern traveller by air. His life includes 
hardship but is one of relative leisure as compared with the life of the 
peasant. His property is of a kind subject to natural increase and also 
liable to a sudden diminution, creating a wide divergence in wealth 
between those more and less fortunate. The owner of flourishing and 
multiplying herds will need underlings to tend them. These he may 
well recruit from among other nomads whose herds have perished 
from disease or drought. The nomad's property may also be in- 
creased or diminished by theft. He has reason, from time to time, to 
covet some of the products of agriculture. He is, in general, an op- 
ponent of civilisation. 

As a settled life is favourable to civiMzation, so a nomadic life is the 
reverse. ... By the very nature of their lives they are enemies of 
building, which is the first step in civilization.* 

Among pastoral peoples, kingship is likely to take a special form. 
What is demanded of their king is leadership — the direction needed 
by a people on the move.* An agricultural people cannot be led, for 
they are static; but pastoral folk will call their king 'The Good 
Shepherd', a title later adapted to Christian theology. It is hardly 
possible for a king of this sort to become the almost invisible deity 
behind palace doors. He has no palace. Leading in person, he must be 
known to all, a man like other men but with greater knowledge and 
wisdom. One way, incidentally, in which his knowledge and wisdom 
might appear is in his greater wealth. The nomad who has gained 

' See African Political Systems, p. 6. 

- Primitive Society. R. H. Lowie. London, 1921. 3rd ed. 1949. p. 377. 
■'Politics. Aristotle, (I), p. 1319. 

' See Habitat, Economy and Society, a Geographical Introduction to Ethnology. 
C. Daryll Forde. London; 1934. p. 408. 


some wealth by luck in breeding and raising stock will turn readily 
to trade as a means of becoming wealthier still. But to be known as a 
good judge of cattle and horses with a flair for finding the best route to 
the best pasture at the right time is a very different thing from being a 
deity. In general, the men who cross the desert and sleep beneath the 
stars have an intense belief in their tribal god, as the Jews had in 
Yahweh, but they are not much inclined to deify a man who sleeps 
in the next tent. 

The herdsmen whose migrations from one pasture to another are 
all within a very limited area differ less from the cultivators than do 
the herdsmen who have further to go. Indeed, there are pastoral 
peoples who are largely settled in one place, only the shepherds being 
truly migrant. Of those with great distances to cover, a majority lay 
some sort of claim to specific pastures. 

. . . The steppe-dwellers know how to make the best use of their 
pastures ... all migrations are within the territory of the tribe, clan, or 
family group, as the case may be, various parts of which are occupied 
at different times and usually only for a short period. Even in the best 
districts a move of five to ten miles must be made every few weeks. 
The wanderings are never aimless. The pastoralists know where there 
is water, and they often visit certain pastures at a particular season. 
Many of the herders of Central Asia spend their winter in the val- 
leys. . . . Their possession of horses has given them greater mobility 
than many herders, and some of them wander several hundred miles 
during a year.^ 

The greater distances travelled are essentially due to the domesti- 
cation of camels and horses. Camels were known in Babylonia from 
about 3000 B.C. but were not numerous until a century later. From 
the beginning, camels were bred with a view to improving their 
special qualities of endurance and speed. It has been pointed out that 
'many a dromedary can boast a genealogy far longer than the 
descendants of the Darley Arabian'.'^ The horse appears in Baby- 
lonian records at about the same period as the camel but may have 
been known in Mesopotamia before that. Horses may first have been 
tamed and ridden in Turkestan, their use spreading thence to the 
Iranian plateau and so to Babylon. They again were carefully bred, 
their pedigrees being remembered, and their qualities developed. The 
introduction of camels and horses produced not only a greater dis- 
tinction between herdsmen and cultivators but also some differences 
among the herdsmen themselves. Some were mounted and some were 
not. In the desert, for example, the true nomad divides the human 
race into two main categories, the Hayar, those who live in permanent 

' From Hunter to Husbandman. J. W. Page. London, 1939. p. 99. 

-In the Sahara. Canon Tristram. Quoted in From Hunter to Husbandman, p. 104. 


houses and the Arab who dwell in black tents. The arabs are further 
divided into the Shwayar, who live on the edge of the desert with 
their flocks, and the Bedouins who breed camels and live for ten 
months of the year in the desert.^ 

It has been observed that, in partly nomadic tribes, the nomads are 
the more vigorous and independent of the members. 'The foremost 
Shaikhs of the Abaidat, Hasa . . . etc., etc. . . . are all to be found 
during the rains farther away in the steppe than most of their fellow- 

The diff"erences here described are not merely divergencies in 
occupation. They represent, and have presumably always represented, 
a series of social gradations. The tent-dweller despises the husband- 
man. The Bedouin despises the mere Arab. And among the Bedouin 
it soon appears that some tribes are superior to others. Thus we find, 
in the Old Testament, that Saul, when chosen as king, protests 'Am I 
not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my 
family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?'^ The 
relative status of the different tribes and families must have been 
perfectly well known and scarcely a matter of dispute. Within each 
tribe, moreover, there are strangers and fellow-travellers, regarded as 
inferior to the tribesmen themselves. There must be a blacksmith, for 
example, but he is more or less 'untouchable'. There are other 
menials, camp-followers and slaves, of seven or more categories but 
all socially beyond the pale. As against that, at the other extreme, the 
office of chief is hereditary, most likely, in the senior fine but subject 
to a necessary standard of ability, thus giving the elders of the tribe 
a certain latitude in choosing one of those eligible by birth. It should 
be observed, incidentally, that people interested in the pedigrees of 
horses are likely to show a similar interest in the pedigrees of men. 

The inequalities so far described as characteristic of nomadic 
peoples are partly the result of good or bad fortune but more the 
result of varying degrees of courage. The nomad who remains on the 
fringe of the desert is withheld by timidity from claiming the higher 
status that would accompany a greater spirit of enterprise. His lower 
status is thus voluntarily assumed, at least in part, just as, among 
seafaring peoples, the deep-sea mariner may look down upon the 
fisherman who in turn despises the landsman; each being neverthe- 
less content to remain what he is. Among nomad riders of the horse 
or camel there arise, in addition, all the inequalities resulting from 
mounts being worse or better and riders being more or less skilled 
and daring. 

' A Reader in General Anthropology. Carleton S. Coon. London, 1950. pp. 380-407. 
" The Sanusi of Cyrenaica. E. E. Evans-Pritchard. Oxford, 1949. See Chapter II. 
The Bedouin. 

^ I Samuel 9, verse 21. 


That there is a hmit to the size of a pastoral group is manifest. 
However nomadic in character, the group, clan or tribe has a well- 
defined territory, the pastures in which will support no more than a 
certain number of cattle, sheep or draught animals. When the pastures 
are over-grazed, the herdsmen must either divide into smaller groups 
or invade the pastures of another tribe. Disputes are likely to result 
from either policy, and the Old Testament contains one careful 
explanation of how one such quarrel arose: — 

. . . And Abram was very rich in cattle . . . and Lot also, which went 
with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not 
able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance 
was great. . . . And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's 
cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle. . . .^ 

The immediate solution in this instance was for Abram and Lot to 
separate, Abram going to Canaan and Lot to the plain of Jordan; 
but not every dispute would end as amicably, nor was that agreement 
free from the risk that each of the two groups might become em- 
broiled with another tribe. 

There can be little doubt that it was the pastoral peoples who 
proved most quarrelsome. 

. . . The grain-grower is usually too much absorbed in cultivating his 
land to have any interests outside it, and such fights as he indulges in 
are not of his seeking. Though the most peaceful and long-suflFering 
of men, they resent ravages on their fields, and even in quite early 
days seem to have come to blows with the pastoral tribes on their 
borders, whose beasts invaded and devoured their growing crops. 
We have a hint of one such episode in the story of Cain and Abel, 
told by the partisans of the latter, so that in the story a? it has reached 
us no mention is made of the damage done by AbeFs sheep among the 
crops of Cain. . . .' 

It is probably an exaggeration to assert that agricultural peoples are 
invariably peace-loving, but it is clear that pastoral peoples have 
more occasion for dispute, both among themselves and also with their 
more settled neighbours. There might be competition for the earliest 
grass in spring or the latest grass in autumn. There might be strife 
over a spring or a well. There might, finally, be a season of drought 
during which the crops of the cultivator would become a standing 

It is not pastoralism and cultivation as such that face each other in 
hostility, but mobility with poverty as against sessile and vulnerable 
wealth. . . . 

' Genesis 1 3, verse 2. 

■ Early Steps in Human Progress. Harold Peake. London, 1933. p. 229. 


The essential point, so far as relations with cultivators are con- 
cerned, is that a pastoral people, especially if equipped with riding 
animals, has a superior mobility which, although it may at a given 
time be latent, is always there as an asset when there is opportunity for 
gain, and equally when there is need for retreat. . . ^ 

It was most probably among the pastoral peoples that conflict first 
began on such a scale as to merit the name of war. And war, when it 
came, had a great influence on the institution of Monarchy. 

' Habitat, Economy and Society, a Geof;rapl.ical Introduction to Ethnology. C. Daryll 
Forde. London, 1934. pp. 405-407. 


The Implications of War 

THERE are reasons, as we have seen, for supposing that war 
originated among the nomads. ProbabiHties apart, moreover, 
it was commonly believed in ancient times that this was so. Aristotle 
points out that 'A pastoral people is the best trained for war, sturdy 
in physique and used to camping out'.^ Even more to the point, an 
Arab historian writes as follows: — 

Since conquests are achieved only by dash and daring, a people 
accustomed to the nomadic life and the rough manners engendered by 
the desert can readily conquer a more civilized people, even though 
the latter be more numerous and equally strong in communal spirit. . . . 
Having no country where they live in the enjoyment of plenty, they 
have no tie to bind them to their birthplace. All lands alike seem good 
to them. Not content with lordship among their own folk and over 
their neighbours, they overpass the bounds of their country to invade 
distant lands and subdue their inhabitants. . . .- 

All this is true enough; and if we go further and ask what are the 
special qualities of a good soldier we shall find that the qualities of 
the nomad are much the same. We would instance physical toughness, 
physical courage, laziness (with a capacity for energy when needed), 
the ruthlessness which comes, somehow, from a life of movement in 
the open air,^ no tendency to be homesick, a certain cunning but no 
excess of brains, a great care for horses but none for standing crops or 
buildings, a robust common sense, a singleness of purpose and a 
strictly limited imagination — all these are the qualities of the nomad. 
If there were no other evidence shedding light on the origins of war, 
we could still say that the nomadic peoples had the character, the 
means and the motive. 

War, as opposed to inter-tribal bickering, depends upon transport 
facilities. The peoples of Babylon and Sumeria had the camel, the ass 
and the wheeled vehicle by some period round about 3000 B.C. 
Although Sargon of Agade's conquest of Sumeria (perhaps round 
about 2750 B.C.) is the first large-scale war of which we have record, 

' Politics. 1. p. 1319. 

- In Quest of Civilization. Ronald Latham. London, 1946. 

^ As Kinglake remarks in Eothen. See Kinglake's Eothen. Ed. by D. G. Hogarth. 
London, 1925. p. 28. 



it is probable that there were previous wars among the Semitic 
tribes of Syria and Arabia.^ But while an army of nomad or partly 
nomad origin, with driven herds of cattle, sheep and goats, and with 
vehicles drawn by oxen or asses, has sufficient mobility for war, its 
speed remains pedestrian. The acceleration of war begins with the 
introduction of the horse. 

The horse in earliest use was the tarpan, a small animal of the 
Shetland pony type, found wild in the steppe country between the 
Dnieper and the Altai.- These had been domesticated and saddled 
by 2500 B.C. and were in use from the Caucasus to the Indus Valley. 
They gave an added mobility in war but were too small to mount a 
heavily equipped rider. They began to prove their real value when they 
replaced the ass in drawing the war-chariot. By means of the chariot, 
four horses (or more) could be made to carry two men, one of them 
heavily armed. The dreaded war-chariot (of which the first descrip- 
tion dates from 2000 B.C.) spread as a standard weapon of war from 
the steppe country to Mesopotamia, Assyria, Persia, India, Tibet, 
China and Europe. The Babylonians learnt to respect the 'wild ass of 
the mountains' and the pastoral Amorites, who centred their empire 
on Babylon, used their war chariots to invade and conquer Egypt in 
about 2100 B.C., setting up there a new dynasty of the Hyksos 
or 'shepherd kings'. What impressed the Egyptians (to whom the 
horse was a novelty) was the speed with which the campaign 

God was adverse to us, and there came out of the East in an extra- 
ordinary manner men of ignoble race, who had the temerity to invade 
our country, and easily subdued it by force without a battle. 

Once the Egyptians had learnt how to use horse-drawn war- 
chariots, they regained their freedom in about 1600 B.C. 

The next stage in the development of the horse was apparently the 
crossing of the tarpan with another breed of horse, perhaps native to 
Libya or Persia.^ A type of horse was eventually produced which 
could be ridden to battle (though not at first into battle) by a single 
archer. For centuries, meanwhile, both chariots and horsemen were 
to be seen on the battlefield. The earliest known detailed account of a 
battle relates to that of Megiddo in about 1479 B.C. The conflict was 
between Thothmes III of Egypt and a group of Asian princes gathered 
in Palestine. We have the account of a council of war, an advance by 

' Wars of Sumer and Akkad are supposed to have taken place in about 2961 b.c. 
See Priests and Kings. H. Peake and H. J. Fleure. Oxford, 1927. p. 48. 

- Communicalion has been established. A.J. H. Goodwin. London, 1937. See Chapter 
.3, esp. pp. 47-48. 

^ Ancient History of the Near East. p. 214. 

' See Empire and Comnninications. Prof. H. A. Innis. Oxford, 1950. 


the obvious and therefore unexpected route, a deployment before 
battle, the engagement and victory, the pursuit and the capture of 
Megiddo itself. Before the battle the King overruled his captains and 
led the army in person, his troops following 'horse behind horse'. 
When the battle was joined the King fought 'in a chariot of electron, 
arrayed with his weapons of war, like Horus, the Smiter, lord of 
power'.' The enemy (not unnaturally) fled 'abandoning their horses 
and their chariots of gold and silver'. When the walled town of 
Megiddo fell as a consequence of the victory, the loot included 924 
chariots, 200 suits of armour, flocks and herds, and the reaping of the 
local harvest. From this narrative it is apparent that fighting strength 
was counted in chariots, that the leaders at least had elaborate 
armour, that the king might command in person and that the God 
Horus had become a God of War. 

The Old Testament account of Pharaoh's pursuit of the Israelites 
dates from a rather later period but presents a similar picture. 
Pharaoh had horsemen in addition to his 600 chariots but the 
Israelites had neither.- They evidently fought at this period under a 
considerable disadvantage, being told to make the best of it. 'When 
thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses and 
chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them . . . .'^ 
This sort of exhortation remained familiar to them during the time of 
Saul and David — the Philistines being able to muster 30,000 chariots 
and 6,000 horsemen^ — and it was not until the time of Solomon 
(c. 960 B.C.) that the Israelites were similarly equipped with horses 
purchased in Egypt. They could then muster 1,400 chariots and 12,000 
horsemen.^ At the end of the captivity in Babylon the Jewish tribes- 
men numbered over 42,000 but could muster only 736 horses and 
435 camels as against nearly 7,000 asses and mules. Horses were 
evidently reserved for war. The Assyrian army included mounted 
archers in 800 B.C. but each of these needed a groom to hold the 
horse's bridle while the bow was drawn — a loss both of mobility and 
man-power. No horseman used a weapon other than a bow; nor, 
without a stirrup, would this have been possible. 

The technique of chariot warfare seems to have been much the 
same everywhere. One man fought and the other managed the 

And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the King of 
Israel between the joints of the harness; wherefore he said unto the 

^ Ancient History of the Near East. pp. 236-239. 
' Exodus. 14. 

' Deuteronomy, 20, which comprises the Jewish Field Service Regulations of the 

' To quote the war correspondents of the defeated side. 

= I Kings. 10. David had a hundred chariots only. See II Samuel 8, verse 4. 


driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; 
for I am wounded. . . .^ 

In India, according to one authority, the king drove the chariot 
himself, but this was apparently to make room for his principal 
religious adviser whose prayers had to accompany every process 
from harnessing the horses to shooting off his arrows.'' We learn that 
some chariots of later design carried a crew of three, which would 
certainly be advisable so long as a chief Brahman had to be one of 
them. Chariots are mentioned frequently in the Iliad. They were used 
for war in places as distant from each other as China and Britain. 
Before they could be replaced by real cavalry, two further steps in 
progress were necessary. First of these was the breeding of larger 
horses. Second of these was the invention of the stirrup. 

The breed of horses was improved mainly by the Arabs but the 
stirrup was apparently invented in China. It was the people of Ch'in 
or Ts'in, living in the mountains of the upper Hoang-Ho, who first 
acquired horses to ride and iron weapons instead of bronze. They 
conquered the rest of China without much difficulty between 350 and 
220 B.C. and established an empire in which good roads and fast 
horses played an important part. It was not, however, until long 
afterwards, in the sixth century a.d. that the use of the stirrup spread 
from China to the Middle East, transforming all warfare and making 
cavalry supreme on the battlefield for many centuries to come.^ 
Given stirrups, the horseman could fight without dismounting, taking 
the shock of battle, wielding the sword and then the lance. Behind 
the whole epic of the Crusades there lies a story of horse-breeding 
and horsemanship. From it there emerges the idea of chivalry. 
Europeans have tended to assume that the Saracens learnt the eti- 
quette of war from the Crusaders. This is the reverse of the truth. The 
custom of sparing the disarmed, the wounded, the unhorsed, the 
women and children comes essentially from the desert peoples of the 
Arab type. 

There are peoples who after a fight spare their defeated adversaries 
without enslaving them. The different tribes of the Arab stock have the 
reputation of showing their enemies remarkable clemency after a 
victorious fight. Regarding the Bedouins of the Euphrates it is said 
to be the property of the enemy and not his person which is the object 
of the fighting. The person of the enemy is sacred when disarmed or 
dismounted; and prisoners are neither enslaved nor held to other 
ransom than their mares.* This purpose is attained by merely dis- 

' I Kings, 22. 

■ The VecUc Age. Ed. by R. C. Majumdar. London, 195 L p. 484. 

' Communication has been established. A. J. H. Goodwin. London, 1937. p. 48 et. seq. 

' Among the steppe tribes, the leaders used to ride geldings but the custom in the 
Middle East was different, the warrior riding a mare, his followers having geldings, 
mules or asses. See p. 50. Communication has been established. A. J. H. Goodwin. 
London, 1937. 


mounting or wounding the enemy. The latter's arms and mare become 
the property of the victor, and he himself is then let go. ... It is 
contrary to the Arab conscience to extinguish a kabila (tribe). . . .' 

The customs of the Ruala Bedouins were not necessarily those of 
all Arabs nor were they displayed, of necessity, towards those not of 
Arab stock. Thus Jeremiah wrote of the nomads 'They lay hold on 
bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice roareth 
like the sea and they ride upon horses'.^ It was strictly towards other 
horsemen that their clemency was shown and chivalry is strictly the 
right word for it. But chivalry, in the sense of sparing opponents, is 
clearly a desert attitude of mind, closely connected with desert laws 
of hospitality. The main enemy (as well as friend) is the desert itself, 
as against which, in its more dangerous aspect, all are allied. The host 
who shares his provisions with a stranger may soon afterwards be 
himself the guest. And where all tribesmen are running similar risks 
there is a fellow feeling for others whose predicament is the same and 
an equally shared contempt for those who are running no risk at all. 
Similar customs are found among sailors and mountaineers. The 
rescue of survivors at sea has always extended, in some degree, to 
rivals or opponents; and even a hostile seaman deserves more respect 
than the mere landlubber. In similar fashion, the cavalry elite of an 
army which includes a despised infantry (not to mention mere camp- 
followers) has much in common with the cavalry on the other side."^ 
The fighting may be real enough but will tend to fall short of total 
warfare. Neither group will fight to the point of mutual extermination 
for all are agreed that a future battle, without cavalry, would be no 
better than a vulgar brawl. 

With these origins and aspects of war clearly in mind we shall find 
that the political implications of war are not far to seek. To begin 
with, war demands leadership. Among pastoral peoples the leader- 
ship is already there. In an agricultural land, ruled by a king of mainly 
religious and ceremonial importance, the leader must be found. 
Either the king must descend from his pedestal and assume a different 
kind of power (losing his godlike aloofness in the process) or else 
another leader must be appointed, assuming an authority which a 
king might view with some alarm. There are instances of either policy 
being preferred but seldom has the need for a single leader been 
seriously questioned. In war, as people realised from the beginning, 
it is usually better to decide something, even mistakenly, than to argue 

' The Origin of the Inequality of the Social Classes. G. Landtman. London, 1938. p. 3. 

-Jeremiah, 6, verse 23. 

' The Indians, in estimating the strength of an army counted one chariot as equal to 
one elephant, three cavalry-men or five infantry. The Indian rules of warfare also 
enjoined the soldier to spare the timid, the intoxicated, the insane, the negligent, the 
unprepared, the aged, women, children and Brahmans. To this list Gautama is said to 
have added ambassadors and cows. 


for long as to what is best. So the first effect of war is to transform 
the character of kingship. The king who leads his army in person 
becomes something less than a god but gains enormously in actual 
authority; provided always that the war is, or can be made to appear, 
victorious. The king who, like David 'stood by the gate side, and all 
the people came out by hundreds and by thousands'/ might the 
better survive defeat but would lose much executive power in the 
course of the war. After victory he might well have to listen to his 
subjects cheering someone else. 

The next implication of war concerns rather the people themselves. 
For they gain in war a sense of unity, born of common fears and 
hatreds, strengthened by common privations, efforts, disasters and 
triumphs. The king is made the symbol of that unity but, in his 
absence, (and he could not be everywhere) the sense of unity finds 
expression in his flag or standard. At the same time the fortification 
of cities strengthens a local sense of unity. And walled cities, being 
more compact and defined, become more urban in character; further 
removed from the rural and more self-consciously civilised. 

With this new emphasis, however, on group loyalties, tribal or 
local, comes the growth of class distinctions. Monarchy creates a 
nobility in any case but it is war that adds to its numbers, prestige and 
influence. An army must be officered and not solely by the king's 
relatives. There will grow up, during a war, a class of nobles whose 
authority is based not upon religion, magic, seniority or birth but 
upon experience, ability, determination and courage. These nobles 
are to be distinguished from the common people by their superior 
arms and armour, by their chariots and, at a later date, by their 
horses. The fact of being mounted makes a revolution in outlook both 
in the rider and in his inferiors. The horseman is higher from the 
ground, sees farther, travels faster. The change in outlook might 
almost be compared with that brought about when man first stood on 
his hind legs. The horseman is literally looked up to. He in turn 
literally looks down upon other folk, and over them towards things 
more remote. He feels more than his unmounted self and, even when 
he is on foot, his boots, breeches and spurs have about them a 
fingering hint of authority, daring and privilege. He enjoys more 
respect than envy for even in time of peace he takes more risks than 
humbler folk are always ready to incur. Hence, in many languages, 
the word for horseman has much the same significance as 'gentle- 
man'. The Roman Equestrian had a certain rank in society. Since 
then we have Knight, Knecht, Cavalier, Chevalier, Caballero and 
other such titles. Even in the British army, riding boots, leggings and 
spurs lingered for a time after horses had become scarce. Even in 

' II Samuel, 18, verse 4. 


India jodhpurs are worn by statesmen and diplomatists whose duties 
are, in fact, sedentary. And if modern drivers of tanks still insist upon 
their theoretical status as cavalrymen, the riding boot played a still 
greater part among the non-riding adherents of Mussolini and 

From war is derived the epic, the saga, the tale of heroism. While 
it was the King (beyond question) who terrified the enemy and won 
the battle, other men sometimes distinguished themselves; occasion- 
ally, even, when the king was not there. They behaved, it became 
clear, in a godhke manner. So they must, it seems, be gods or des- 
cendants of the gods. Thus there developed a new source of nobility. 
These god-descended heroes — whose deeds, recorded in song and 
verse, lost nothing in the telling — these men who had slain lions, 
tigers, dragons and giants — were not to be confused henceforth with 
the common herd. And if they were descended from the gods, other 
people were descended from them. While some men's reputations 
might suffer during a war, others rose to the status of the god-des- 
cended, the equestrian, the noble. 

Other poHtical implications of war include the subordination of 
women and efforts to ensure their chastity in the absence of warrior 
husbands and in the presence of other warriors whose administrative 
duties have kept them out of the actual fighting. Nor must we forget 
that the capture of prisoners creates or extends the institution of 
slavery. War also induces people to copy each other, and more 
especially the enemy, whose uniform and equipment is always 
superior. From war, finally, we inherit a grisly legacy of taxation. 
Horses, chariots and arms have to be paid for. Taxes bring with them 
all the attendant horrors of arithmetic, estimates, assessments and 
accounts. War is thus accompanied by and largely responsible for a 
vastly more complicated administration. Maps must be drawn and 
distances estimated. Someone must calculate what provision to make 
for so many men and horses over a given number of days. Someone 
must discover how many men are sick and how many still on parade. 
People must be taught something of elementary hygiene, invented 
probably by Moses. War, if successful, will imply the conquest of new 
territory with consequent problems of distance, communications, 
fortification, military government and taxes. And the wider the area 
conquered the more complex its administration will become. 

In administration the basic need is for writing. The first cuneiform 
writing was apparently the invention of the Sumerians in about 
3500 B.C. The Egyptian hieroglyphic existed, however, before 3000 
B.C. Chinese writing may date from 2000 b.c. or thereabouts and is the 
only pictorial writing still used. There are obvious limitations to the 
value of any ideographic script and the great step forward (after that 


of writing itself) was the invention of the phonetic alphabet of twenty- 
two letters, at first without the vowels. This was the North Semitic 
alphabet, probably invented in Syria between 2000 and 1500 B.C.; 
the script from which, via the Phoenicians, the Greek and Roman 
alphabets derived. The later and more effective method of writing 
dates from the period during which wars became fashionable and 
from the area in which some of the earliest recorded campaigns took 
place. This may be coincidence. It is worth recalling, however, that 
administration, writing and bureaucracy are all closely connected 
with each other and that the earlier (and more difficult) writing tends 
to remain the accomplishment of a priestly class to which admin- 
istrative work might often fall, if one result of war might be to estab- 
lish or strengthen a nobility of the sword, another result might well be 
to establish a second nobility — of the pen. 


Monarchy and Nationalism 

WE have traced authority in human affairs to the elder person, 
the parent, the patriarch of a family group, the chief of a 
tribe. We have seen that the authority of the chief is sometimes 
paralleled by the authority of the magician or priest. There is reason, 
we have found, to suspect that kingship arises, in agrarian states, 
from one person managing to combine the powers of chief and 
magician. In pastoral societies we have noted a different conception 
of kingship, based upon the powers of a chief who is essentially a 
leader of men, not aloof and godlike but active, skilful, well-mounted 
and rich. War arises and leads, not infrequently, to the less warlike 
peasants being attacked by the nomads. A nomad conquest of an 
agrarian people is a fairly common event, the result being to impose 
pastoral rulers upon an agricultural society. Egypt provides perhaps 
the classic example of this; and there, as elsewhere, the views (on 
monarchy) of the conquered proved more important, in the long run, 
than the views of the conquerors. Like the Roman Emperors who 
later assumed the same office, the Shepherd Kings found themselves 
stiffening into the hieratic attitude apparently expected of them. 
Something like mummification set in even while the king lived. And 
it was Egypt that provided a pattern of monarchy for the rest of the 

Monarchy, as thus established and spread afterwards by conquest 
or imitation, comprised four distinct elements. The king had, 
basically, the paternal authority of the tribal or district chief; he was 
the arbitrator in cases of dispute, the father of his people. To this he 
had added the authority of the priest, the god-descended immortal, 
the embodiment of god and (finally) the god on earth. But if the king 
himself came of a pastoral and nomadic people, he would also be the 
active leader, administrator and judge. If, finally, his power had been 
established and maintained by war, he would be the supreme com- 
mander in the field, experienced, skilful, daring and, above all, 
victorious. It is fairly clear that monarchy reaches its purest form when 
a king contrives to accumulate and retain all these different powers, 
paternal, religious, active and warlike. It is at least equally clear that 
these different functions are partly inconsistent with each other. The 
active leader in matters of policy is not the ideal arbitrator in matters 



of dispute. The enthroned king, immovable under the weight of 
crown and robes, high above his prostrate court, would seem in- 
congruous in the tented field. The war leader, on the other hand, can 
scarcely exact a religious veneration from comrades who know him 
to be a man like themselves. Kings who have striven for the maximum 
authority have sought to strike a balance between their several roles, 
the predominant role being decided in part by personality but more 
perhaps by the nature of the problem they had to solve. 

Vital to this problem is the factor of distance. When an empire is 
vast and varied, it was literally impossible (before the era of tele- 
vision) for the king to make himself personally known, as judge and 
leader, to any considerable number of his subjects. Even if he did, 
he would return from his travels to find that actual power had fallen 
(perhaps irrevocably) into the hands of a minister, secretary or 
brother. To maintain personal rule over a large empire the king would 
have to be everywhere at once. As this was impracticable for a man, 
the king had to make himself a god, present in spirit wherever his 
altar might be set up. Perhaps the most long-lived of monarchies 
have been of this type, gaining in permanence for what they may have 
lost in vitality. The tendency is, however, for such a monarchy to lose 
all but nominal power, especially during a king's minority, and turn 
gradually into an elaborate pageant behind which the actual govern- 
ment is done by others. A king who sees the danger of this may choose 
rather the role of military leader, keeping the substance of power and 
resigning something of the shadow. By the end of a life spent on the 
threatened frontiers, he too will find that the central administration 
has been taken over by someone else. The final experiments in 
monarchy tend to show that a large and diverse empire requires a 
more or less deified king, and that the kings most successful in 
retaining real authority have ruled over smaller and more compact 
areas; the sort of territories exemplified in the modern national 

Perhaps the best example of a successful monarchy established over 
a wide area and yet wielding considerable powers can be taken from 
the history of China. Here the process was assisted by a measure of 
geographical unity and isolation, without which stability might have 
been more difficult to maintain. China, at any rate, aff'ords the spec- 
tacle of a semi-deified monarchy wielding eff'ective power over diverse 
peoples and for considerable periods of time. Chinese civilisation had 
developed in a China of conflicting states, no one of which mastered 
the rest until about 200 B.C. The Ch'in or Ts'in people, who first 
learnt to ride and use iron weapons, were reorganised as a centralised 
monarchy as from about 350 B.C. and found no other state capable 
of prolonged rivalry. 'To a steel tool of extreme precision was 


opposed a corrupt mass of crumbling states torn by internecine 
strife'.^ Shih Huang-Ti made himself emperor, assumed a divine title, 
abolished the feudal states, reorganised China into thirty-six 
Provinces (to which four more were added later), standardised 
calligraphy, weights and measures, constructed a system of imperial 
roads and burnt all books that were not officially approved. The 
Ts'in Dynasty was actually shortlived but its central organisation 
was taken over by Wu Ti and eventually, after a period of disorder, 
by the T'ang Dynasty (a.d. 618-906) and the Ming Dynasty (a.d. 
1368-1644). Despite internal troubles and the 'Dark Ages' of a.d. 
220-589, China has tended to be a centralised empire under a single 
king. From the third century B.C. until 1912 the sacred monarch had 
theoretically absolute sovereignty, unlimited by law. In practice 
there were considerable changes but in form the government was very 
stable and highly organised. Successive monarchs had evolved a 
personal absolutism designed to guard against usurpation by a 
relative, a servant or eunuch, a noble or a provincial governor. 
Supreme religious, executive, judicial and military powers were all 
vested in the emperor himself. All the influences of literature, educa- 
tion, inspection and doctrine were organised in support of the imperial 
throne. And yet further stability was achieved by a deliberate absten- 
tion from foreign affairs or military conquest. The Great Wall of 
China symbolises a consistent policy of seeking unity and permanence 
within a defined and limited area. The price paid for stability was in 
terms of mental stagnation — such a stagnation as probably charac- 
terised the monarchy of Egypt. 

It would be wrong, however, to conclude from this that the 
Chinese have made no contribution to political thought or practice. 
It is true that their ministerial and provincial administration was 
similar to that of other empires, although more efficient than most, but 
they also invented selection of officials by competitive examination 
together with a system of inspection and of ascertaining the views of 
the public. Strictly subordinating military to civilian officers, they 
chose both on the basis of written examinations. Boys began their 
education at the age of five or six, spent four or five years in practising 
calligraphy and memorising a dozen classic works. The more apt for 
study were allowed to enter for a district examination. In this the 
candidates (perhaps about 2,000 in each district) would spend a night 
and a day in composing two essays and a poem. Perhaps about twenty 
out of the 2,000 would be awarded the first degree. These privileged 
few, now exempt from taxes or corporal punishment and indeed 
from the magistrate's authority, spent three years in the district 
academy before attempting the provincial examination, held every 

'^ Short History of Chinese Civilization. Richard Wilhelm. London, 1929. p. 157. 


third year and lasting three sessions of three days each. Theoretically 
the candidates might have numbered 50,000 but not all stayed the 

In the first session he was required to produce three essays; one on a 
subject from the Analects, one from the Chang Yung (Doctrine of the 
Mean), and one from the Ming Tzu (Works of Mencius). He must also 
compose a poem of eight couplets. In the second session the candidate 
wrote five essays, one from each of the Five Classics; and in the third 
session, five essays on the art of government, supporting his statements 
with reference to great historic ideas. His originality was shown in his 
application of these ideas to the problems given. ^ 

it was not an examination in which originality, beyond a certain 
point, was likely to pay. Of those competing (17,000 to 3,000, accord- 
ing to the population of the province) from 184 to 52 were awarded 
the second degree. These worked for one more year and then took the 
third and highest examination at the imperial capital. This was of one 
session, during which the candidate wrote an essay on a current 
political problem - irrigation, currency, education or the like. Some 
300 candidates were then awarded the third and highest degree, the 
top three in merit having special honours and the best of all being 
noted as a likely future Minister. Of the 300 'chin-shih' or achieved 
scholars, a third were given academic posts, two thirds admitted to the 
civil service. 

From the Emperor's point of view, this system of recruitment had 
great advantages. Worked fairly, it excluded nepotism, favouritism 
and influence. It allowed no unfair preponderance to any one 
province nor even to any one class of society. It was strictly an exam- 
ination in a literature which the Emperor approved. Even, however, 
on general principles, the system had much to commend it. It 
excluded the mediocre and stupid. It excluded, above all, those who 
lacked the stamina to go on. It has been claimed, and with justice, 
that these examinations afforded a moral as well as an intellectual 
test.- Their value was recognised and the principle copied successively 
by the East India Company (in 1832), the English- Civil Service 
(1853) and the Indian Civil Service (1855).=^ One might add that the 
later improvements on the competitive system have been manifestly 
less efficient. 

At the same time, the limitations of the Chinese system are obvious. 
To arrive at an absolute order of merit, all candidates must take the 
same examination. This in itself excluded from public life all whose 

' China. Ed. by H. F. MacNair. California, 1946. See also Government and Politics of 
China. Ch'ien Tuang Sheng. Harvard, 1950. pp. 22-23. 

■ See Hs'iintze, the Moulder of Confucianism. H. H. Dubs. London, 1927. p. II. 
'' China, op. cit. Chap. XXX by Teng Ssu-Yii. p. 449. 


abilities were other than Hterary; the lawyer, the mathematician, the 
scientist, the merchant, the explorer, the seaman and the soldier. 
Only classical learning was considered and the student was invited 
to memorise, elucidate, comment upon and versify round the 
accepted ideas comprised in a fairly narrow reading. He was not 
encouraged to think for himself. His final accomplishment, moreover 
(for all practical purposes) was in reading and writing, versifying and 
quoting from the classics. It is the point at which higher education 
should begin rather than finish. One might add, finally, that the 
system of taking the clever boy from a poor family and giving him 
high office as a result of his examination marks, was not without its 
dangers in a society where family loyalties were so deeply-rooted. 
The official could hardly be illiterate but he might easily prove 

As against corruption, however, the Chinese had another device. 
This was the Board of Censors, established under the T'ang Dynasty 
and comprising two Censors-General and two Deputies; with sub- 
ordinates both in the imperial capital and in the Provinces.^ Members 
of this Board served a dual purpose. They were to act as a check on 
officialdom. They were also to ascertain the trend of public opinion 
and remonstrate with the Emperor on the subject of any act or 
policy they considered either unwise or unpopular. They were gen- 
erally more successful in exposing corruption than in remonstrating 
with an infallible Emperor. They represent, nevertheless, an important 
Chinese contribution to political practice. The Chinese monarchy 
owed much of its stability to the system of examinations and as much 
again perhaps to this official inspectorate. 

For much of the history of China the Emperor did in fact rule. But 
examples are fairly common of monarchs, similarly empowered, 
being gradually relegated to purely religious and ceremonial duties. 
Of these examples one of the best is afforded by Japan. Here, in 
Yamato, as it was then called, a group of tribes came successively 
under the influence of China, circa a.d. 214, and of Buddhism, a.d. 
500-600. There followed, in a.d. 645, a revolution called 'The Great 
Change' in the course of which two reformers — Naka, a prince of the 
Imperial Clan, and Kamatari, a noble — reorganised Japan on Chinese 
lines; weakening the nobles, disarming the populace and strengthen- 
ing the central government. Tribal chiefs were deprived of their lands 
and then reinstated as salaried officials. Examinations were intro- 
duced with a new hierarchy of rank, a diff'erent system of taxation, 
and an improved system of communications. A new capital was 
founded at Nara and the country's name changed to Nippon. 

' The Government and Politics of China. Ch'ien Tuan-Sheng. Harvard, 1950. pp. 38, 


But while the powers of tribal chieftains had been, in general, 
curtailed, one clan had gained considerably in power and that was 
Kamatari's clan, the people who had brought the revolution about. 
Kamatari was granted estates called Fujiwara and this name was now 
given to a family destined to retain political power, behind a nominal 
Emperor, for many generations to come. For a moment it seemed that 
the Emperor might lose even his religious position under Buddhist 
domination but the Fujiwara resisted this movement (in its political 
aspect) and moved their Emperor to a new capital at Kyoto, away 
from the monastic influences at Nara. Thenceforward, until the 
nineteenth century, the functions of the Sacred Emperor were almost 
entirely ceremonial. The Fujiwara technique was to marry their 
daughters to the Emperors, rule while the Emperor was young and 
compel him to abdicate and enter a monastery if he showed signs of 
initiative, replacing him by another youngster, probably married to 
another daughter. 

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this nominal Monarchy 
was the system by which the nobles, dispossessed of their local 
powers, were consoled by official sinecures and salaries. In the ninth 
century there were eight Ministries of State, each with anything up to 
eighteen departments, employing over 6,000 officials in the capital 
alone. ^ The departments included 'Bureau of Divination', 'Office of 
Imperial Mausolea', 'The Palace Women's Office' and the 'Utensils 
and Crockery OflRce'. As these and many others had to be staff"ed 
by people of good family, one cannot but see in them a Fujiwara 
device for keeping other people (the Emperor included) out of 
mischief. It succeeded, apparently, for about four hundred and fifty 

As contrasted with monarchies which originally had (and in some 
instances retained) all the elements of both secular and religious 
power, India presents an example of monarchies in which the ele- 
ments were never fully combined. For the institution of Caste in 
India, whatever its origin, seems to antedate the idea of monarchy. 
When the king came to power, the Brahman was already there and 
able to deny him religious supremacy. More than that, society had a 
structure which the king was powerless to modify, religions over 
which he had little control, laws which he did not originate and 
customs by which he might even be bound. Of early Indian history 
remarkably little is known, but it left the kingdoms of the Indus and 
the Ganges with Caste, with the Vedic cult, and with a nobility 
deriving their descent from previous invaders. There is evidence of 
earlier political experiments but, in historical times, it was evidently 
assumed that a society as diversified as that of India required mon- 

' The Pageant of Japanese History. M. M. Dilts. New York, 1938. New ed. 1947. 


archical power to give it any coherence at all. Nor was a king likely to 
find the task an easy one. 

Caste was the division of society into five main hereditary groups: 
the Brahman or priestly and literate Caste, the Warrior Caste, the 
Farmer and Trader Caste, the Working Caste and the Slaves or 

The superiority of the Brahman caste is a basic tenet of Hindu 

Ancient India, so far as the Brahman caste presents it in its own 
literature, is a theocracy, in which no human power can rightfully 
counterbalance the authority of those living gods, the Brahmans. 
Nothing has been left undone by orthodoxy to provide an immovable 
foundation for the pre-eminence of the priesthood which holds the 
Vedic cult in its hands over the whole of Indian society. 

This traditional point of view expresses a theory rather than the 
actual reality of things. . . .^ 

That Brahmin pre-eminence is more apparent in Brahmin literature 
than in the history of India as drawn from other sources must be 
strictly true. Nevertheless, the Brahmins, if not always as powerful as 
they would have liked to be, were in a position to deny the king a part 
of that authority to which he might otherwise have aspired. The king 
was of the Warrior Caste and, although no doubt descended from the 
gods, found his power limited in more directions than one. 'Who 
will not obey the command of the person that quickly does, sees, 
hears, knows, causes to shine and protects everything, since he is 
born out of the essence of all deities?' (Brihatparasara).^ The 
question, although rhetorical, might nevertheless be answered with 
the words 'A Brahman, who considers himself of a higher caste'. As 
against that, caste also made monarchy more secure. 

Based originally upon a desire to avoid racial contamination (a 
prejudice which the British learnt in India at a later stage) the caste 
system effectively prevented the concentration of power in any one 
hand. But this handicap, limiting the king's authority, applied still 
more to everyone else. As Beni Prasad observes : 

. . . caste distributed the brain power, the fighting power and the 
wealth of the community among different sections, and prevented 
that combination of intellectual, martial and economic strength which 
led to aristocratic regime in ancient Greece. Apart from the monarch, 
a Hindu ruling class could wield influence rather than power.^ 

' Ancient India and Indian Civilization. Paul Masson-Oursel and others. London, 
1934. p. 85. 

" A History of Hindu Political Theories. V. Ghoshal. Oxford, 1923. p. 103. 

^ Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. pp. 66-67. 


Still more important, the Brahman's ambition was limited by his 
own religious beliefs. Hindus have a strong belief in an after-life — 
stronger than is characteristic of Europeans or Chinese — which rather 
militates against ambition as also against the desire for reform. 
Writes V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar:^ 

'If the Brahmans had been really avaricious or ambitious they could 
have easily aspired to the imperial and royal offices. If they had only 
wished they could have easily adorned the thrones of many a state. 
But instead they sought voluntarily a hard and strenuous life of fasting 
and penance. 

The Brahman is holy from birth. He is taught the ceremonial rules, 
hymns and legends. He alone can perform the ritual correctly and 
effectually. And the ancient laws, while insisting upon the Brahman's 
superiority, also provide him with strict rules of life. According to 
these, he should spend a quarter of his life in study under a teacher; a 
quarter in public and private affairs as householder and husband 
(during which phase he should bring up a son to succeed him); a 
quarter as a recluse, to be spent in contemplation; and the last 
quarter as an ascetic, without possessions, without society and even 
without religious rites. During this last phase the old Brahman lives 
on charity, purges his heart of all desire and seeks to merge himself 
in Brahma — the supreme deity. Concerning this last phase the 
injunction is: 

Let him not desire to die; let him not desire to live; let him wait for 
his time as a servant for the payment of his wages. Let him patiently 
bear hard words. . . . Against an angry man let him not in return show 
anger; let him bless when he is cursed. 

He is not to injure any living creature; he is to meditate, give up all 
attachments. The world is all illusion — a confused and troubled 
dream, to be regarded without interest. 

The wise man should regard a world which he knows to be illusion, 
with indifference; it can do nothing for him, he can do nothing for it; 
it affects him only with an ineradicable regret that it exists at all, and 
with a longing for its disappearance. . . . 

Brahmanism is the religion of a few. It is clearly, however, an 
excellent belief for a Minister who may wish to restrain royal power 
without superseding it. A recluse who has come to regard the business 
of state as something akin to the pointless and slightly irritating 
buzzing of blue-bottles on a window pane makes a poor conspirator. 
The Brahmans were men with no reason to argue about their pension 

' Hindu Administrative Institutions. Madras, 1929. p. 122. 


rights; and their ambitions, if they had them, were not hmitless. Nor 
were they hopeful material for the revolutionary idealist, for the 
Brahman could view social inequalities without much concern. The 
slave deserves his slavery because of his misdoings during some 
previous and sinful existence. The Brahman has earned his relative 
ease in an earlier life and will be punished in a future life if he misuses 
his privileges in this. Justice is a long-term process and not apparent 
during any one phase of existence. It is not the less real, however, for 
that; and there is certainly no cause to interfere with its progress, 
even were interference possible. 

Royal power in India was thus rather limited than threatened by 
the power of the Brahmans. The king himself was head of the Warrior 
caste and might also meet opposition among its members. But the 
warriors lacked the wealth and education to form a real aristocracy, 
while the merchants lacked both education and prowess. The result 
was that kingship was little threatened during long periods of Indian 
history. It was thought to be essential (as it probably was) to hold the 
state together. And Indian political thought is not directed towards 
discussing alternative forms of rule but rather towards considering 
how to make monarchy effective. If monarchy is thus assumed, the 
problems that remain are three; how to choose the right king; how to 
educate the future king in youth; and how to ensure that the reigning 
king has the best possible advice. These themes underlie most of the 
political thought of ancient India and more especially of the Maurya 
period, in the early days of Chandragupta (c. 305 B.C.), from which 
much of our information is derived. 

As regards choice of a future king, it was strictly limited, of course, 
to the royal family. The king had, after all, to be a descendant of the 
gods. But it was not essential for the eldest son to succeed. The 
present king and his ministers could exercise a choice. This custom 
was transmitted to Malaya, where the setting aside of unacceptable 
princes has always been known. But while a choice might be made, it 
was obviously convenient to make the choice as soon as possible so 
that the future ruler might be trained for the work he would have to 
do. We read that a future king's education should begin at the age of 
three, with the alphabet and mathematics, and should continue from 
the age of eleven in logic, economics and politics. Passing on to 
higher studies in military science and history, he was to complete 
his formal education at sixteen. Then he was to marry and become a 
subordinate in a department of state. Finally he would be promoted 
to a higher post as General or Governor of a Province, probably 
being consecrated as heir-apparent at about the same time.^ The 
Malay custom by which the future ruler is supposed to pass through 

' Tiie Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. p. 218. 


Other offices before reaching the highest is derived from this Hindu 
system and is open, incidentally, to similar objections. 

There are other sources from which we may gain a more detailed, 
if less systematic, account of the curriculum of study thought 
desirable for an heir-apparent. In a work called Siitralankara^ a 
learned author lays down a syllabus on these lines: — 

The Veda, archery, medicine, sacrifices, astronomy, grammar, the 
origin of writing, the performance of sacrifices, eloquence, rhetoric, 
the art of love, interest, purity of families, the ten names, computa- 
tions, chess, dice, the study of origins, music and song, the art of 
playing on the conch, dancing and laughter, the art of prestidigitation, 
education, the making of garlands of flowers, massage, the science of 
precious stones and valuable materials for clothing, silk, sealing, 
weaving, wax work, strategy, sewing, sculpture, painting, arrangement 
of garlands, interpretation of dreams, interpretation of the flight of 
birds, horoscopes of boys and girls, the training of elephants, the art 
of playing on the tambourine, the rules of battle array, the domesti- 
cating of horses, the carrying of the lance, jumping, running and 
fording a river. 

To the modern educationalist, interested in 'comprehensive' 
schools and eager to discourage premature specialisation, there is 
much in this syllabus worthy of careful study. To the student of 
political thought it suggests that the prince was at least kept out of 
mischief, with 'free activity' reduced to a minimum. 

Once the chosen prince succeeded to the throne, following his years 
of education and administrative experience, the Indian thinkers were 
intent on seeing that he worked methodically, perhaps mainly so that 
his official advisers could have regular access to the presence. Two 
suggested time-tables for the day seem worth quoting in full. Neither 
is an account, one may assume, of what an actual king did. Each is 
rather a philosopher's idea of what the ideal king ought to do. 

6.00 to 7.30 a.m. Supervising receipts and expenditure. 

7.30 to 9.00 a.m. Affairs of citizens and people. 

9.00 to 10.30 a.m. Bathing, Vedic chanting and eating. 

10.30 to noon a.m. Affairs of the officers of state. 

12.00 to 1.30 p.m. Council with ministers. 

1.30 to 3.00 p.m. Rest and amusement. 

3.00 to 4.30 p.m. Supervising the army. 

4.30 to 6.00 p.m. Regarding enemies and military operations. 

6.00 to 7.30 p.m. Receiving intelligence officers and others. 

7.30 to 9.00 p.m. Bathing, eating and prayers. 

9.00 to 1.30 a.m. Music and sleep. 

' Ihicl. 

3.00 to 

4.00 a.m. 

4.30 to 

7.30 a.m. 

7.30 to 

11.15 a.m. 

11.15 to 12.45 p.m. 

12.45 to 

2.15 p.m. 

2.15 to 

3.45 p.m. 

3.45 to 

4.30 p.m. 

4.30 to 

6.00 p.m. 

6.00 to 

7.30 p.m. 

7.30 to 

3.00 a.m. 


1.30 to 3.00 a.m. Again music and thoughts of the morrow. 
3.00 to 4.30 a.m. Other state business pondered over. 
4.30 to 6.00 a.m. Morning greetings by Ministers.^ 

A relatively undisciplined European ruler, after only four and a 
half hours sleep, might have been tempted, in these circumstances to 
return the ministers' greetings with derision. For him the alternative 
programme might have seemed slightly preferable: — - 

Supervising accounts. 

Bath and prayers, physical exercises. 

Official business. 

Dinner, rest and reading. 

Justice and Council. 


Parade and army muster. 

Evening prayer and meal. 

Report of Spies. 

Rest and sleep. 

The picture of kingship thus presented in Indian literature differs 
sharply from other conceptions of that office. The king is not to be 
the hieratic figure upon which religious ritual centred in Egypt or 
Japan. He was not to be an active soldier, normally absent on the 
frontiers or in the field. He was not to be a tyrant, doing what he 
chose. He was expected to be a patient administrator, dealing with 
routine business at the proper time, auditing accounts, conferring 
with departmental chiefs, inspecting troops and reading reports. 
No doubt kings would often fall short of this ideal pattern (and as 
often perhaps go beyond it) but there is reason at least to suppose 
that the Indians, or at any rate the Brahmans, pictured their king as 
an actual ruler with real powers and definite duties. They never, 
however, thought of him as ruling without advice. 

The guidance of ministers was essential to the Indian theory of 
kingship and much thought was given to the problems involved; the 
choice of ministers, their number, their duties and their procedure in 
council. First of the ministers was the Purohita, the chief Brahman, 
a man distinguished, it was supposed, by learning and character. 
Kautalya advises: 

. . . that he may be appointed or selected as the purohita who belongs 
to a distinguished and good family, highly learned, versed in all the 

^ Hindu Administrative Institutions. V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar. Madras, 1929. 
- Even though the time allocated to hunting would seem to offer a rather restricted 


sacred lore, as well as the science of astronomy, and the theory of 
polity, skilled in propitiating gods by the various rites prescribed in 
the Athava Veda, to ward off calamities providential or otherwise 
occurring in the kingdom. Him the king should follow as a student his 
teacher, a son his father, and a servant his master. . . .^ 

The Purohita's duties were basically religious and ceremonial but 
it was also generally agreed that the king could do nothing without 
him. Tt is only a kingdom under the guiding hand of a Brahman that 
will last long'. According to another (and Brahman) source, ' A king 
without a purohita is like an elephant without the mahout'. Whereas 
elsewhere the king might be the chief priest himself, in India he was 
an administrator but with a priest at his elbow of almost equal (and 
sometimes perhaps superior) power. The Purohita, whose salary was 
enormous, accompanied the king in battle, uttering prayers, en- 
couraging the troops, threatening the cowardly and seeing to it that 
the army was drawn up 'in the formation invented by Aditya or by 
Usanas' — which would seem to show that religious influence went 
quite far enough. 

The purohita usually formed one of an Inner Cabinet of four; the 
other three being the Mantrin or Chief Adviser, the Commander-in- 
Chief and the Heir apparent. These dealt with matters of the greatest 
secrecy. But they were also members of the full Mantra or Council, 
which numbered eight, ten or possibly twelve, with probably a 
majority of the Warrior Caste. Some arguments were put forward by 
a tenth century thinker'^ for limiting the council to three, five or 
seven. The numbers in fact varied, those included being normally 
perhaps the Treasurer, Foreign Minister, Chief Justice, Minister of 
the Interior, Minister of Works, Minister of Revenue and Agri- 
culture; with sometimes, in addition, the Chamberlain and the 
Commander of the Household Troops. There was also a larger 
Council of thirty-seven representative members, including four 
Brahmans, eight of the Warrior Caste, twenty-one of the wealthier 
Farmers and Merchants, three picked Sudras and one very carefully 
chosen Suta. We read of other ministers in charge of prisons, forests, 
frontiers and forts. When council meetings were held, considerable 
care was taken to ensure secrecy. A special detached building was used 
for the purpose, to prevent eavesdropping, and no living creature 
allowed within earshot; a rule which applied not only to human 
beings but to dogs, deer and (more reasonably) to parrots. 

Procedure was carefully laid down. It seems to have been under- 
stood, in the first place, that the king could make no major decision 
without consulting his ministers. On the other hand, the decision, 

■ See The Veciic Age. Ed. by R. C. Majumdar. London, 1951. p. 484. 
- Theorv of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. See pp. 
235-236, etc. 


when made, was his. He was not bound by a majority vote and might 
obviously pay more attention to some advisers than to others. Soma- 
deva Suri, a tenth century thinker, thus urges the king to ignore the 
advice of soldiers when deciding between war and peace. 

There is another precaution necessary in deliberation of state. 
Military officers are not to be consulted in the determination of policy. 
They are only too ready to clutch at war. Strife is the law of their 
being. They are not to have a hand in the formation of policy lest they 
involve the state in needless wars. Besides, if they are placed in control 
of civil policy, they may grow dangerously proud and powerful. So, 
according to Somadeva, the policy of the state is never to be governed 
by the army. 

In conducting negotiations, the king and councillors alike should 
observe gravity and courtesy. Politeness enables one to achieve the 
deadliest objects. The peacock, endowed with a sweet voice, makes 
short work of snakes. It is, again, mere folly to speak too much, or 
disclose too much. Above all, one should not lose one's temper or 
presence of mind. Fortitude in adversity constitutes real greatness. 
A yet greater danger to the state is popular indignation which should 
never be roused.^ 

There is sound advice here. The theme of deadly politeness is 
touched upon, incidentally, by other authors. 

'The king, we are told, should be humble in speech alone, but sharp 
at heart like a razor. He should carry his foe on his shoulders as long 
as the time is unfavourable, and when the opportunity arrives he should 
dash his enemy to pieces like an earthen pot on a piece of rock'. The 
king who desires prosperity should slay the individual who thwarts his 
purposes, be this person even his son, brother, father or friend. . . . 
When wishing to smite, he should speak gently. After smiting, he 
should speak gentlier still; after striking off the head with the sword, 
he should grieve and shed tears. . . .^ 

To propose too many amendments to resolutions moved from the 
chair might possibly prove unwise. And yet it was evidently the aim 
to reach an agreed solution to the problems debated. A unanimous 
decision was the ideal. Once it was reached or the matter at least 
decided, the verdict was placed on record, the minute being signed 
not merely by the king but by all the ministers present. 

The procedure is described as follows : — - 

Without a written document no business of state was done. A 
matter was endorsed first by the home minister, the lord chief justice, 
the minister of law, the minister of diplomacy, with the fixed style 
'This is not opposed by us', i.e. their departments had no objection. 
The Minister of Revenue and Agriculture endorsed with the remark 

• Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. pp. 235-6. 

* A History of Hindu Political Theories. V. Ghoshal. Oxford, 1923. p. 103. 


'The note is all right'. The minister of finance: 'Well considered'; 
then the president of the Council inscribed in his own hand 'Really 
proper'. Next the prathiidhi wrote: 'Fit to be accepted': the yuvaraja 
following with 'Should be accepted', in his own hand. The ecclesias- 
tical minister endorsed 'This is agreeable to me'. Every minister affixed 
his seal at the end of his note. Finally the king wrote 'Accepted', and 
set his seal. He was supposed to be unable to go through the document 
carefully and the Yuvaraja or someone else was to make this endorse- 
ment for him, which was shown him. After this first stage was over 
the minute was signed by all the ministers as the Council. Finally it 
was once more presented to the king who 'without delay' wrote 'Seen' 
as he had not the 'capacity' to criticize it.^ 

Some of this reads as if the earlier kings, (Chandragupta, perhaps) 
had been unable to read, or unable perhaps to read Sanskrit. 

It would of course be wrong to base a general conception of Hindu 
government upon isolated texts spread over hundreds of years. It 
would be at least equally wrong to conclude that the principles of 
cabinet government were discovered in India and spread thence to 
other lands. We should probably be justified, however, in concluding 
that councils and cabinets are influenced everywhere by similar 
conditions. The ideal committee for secrecy is three (as one Indian 
pointed out). The ideal committee for reaching a sensible decision 
fairly quickly is five or seven. As numbers increase beyond that point, 
discussion becomes diflficult and people begin making speeches. This 
is sufficiently known. Other members are added, nevertheless, and for 
two good reasons. In the first place, expert knowledge is needed on 
more than six topics. In the second place, the persons included cannot 
oppose while those left out can and probably will. Expanding on 
these principles, the numbers in council rise inexorably to ten, twelve 
or fifteen. By the time the number twenty is reached, the five most 
important members will be meeting beforehand to make previous 
decisions in secret conclave. Thenceforward the business of the larger 
council becomes increasingly formal and some of its members are 
demanding admission to the Inner Cabinet. As it proves impossible 
to exclude them, the business of the Inner Cabinet itself becomes more 
formal . . . and so the process continues. It is evident that the Indians 
knew all about it in the Maurya period and are rediscovering now 
anything they had forgotten since. 

Theoretically, the system of a chosen king, educated for his ofllice 
and advised by ministers of experience and probity is a good one. In 
practice it falls short of the theoretical ideal. The fashion is to point 
out that the king may be weak, wicked or even insane. But there 
would still be difficulties even if all the kings were strong, virtuous and 

' Hiiulii Adiiiinisiralive Institutions. V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar. Madras, 1929. 
p. 141. The 'yuvaraja' was the heir apparent, the ecclesiastical minister, the Purohita. 


sensible. For they would still be human beings and liable to the 
accident of birth and death, disease and mishap. The theory of how 
the heir apparent should be trained breaks down if the king outlives 
his son, and perhaps his grandson as well. The system is weakened if 
a king succeeds prematurely, at the age of three or five, with all the 
problems of regency. Apart from that, a king can be ill for long 
periods, crippled by an accident or left childless as the result of an 
epidemic. A theoretically stately procession of monarchs is interrup- 
ted, in practice, by periods during which the ruler is too young, too 
old, too sick or too deaf. Worse still are the periods of doubt during 
which uncertainty prevails as to who the next king is to be. So far as 
India was concerned, what would in any case have been a defect in 
monarchy was made far worse by the institution of polygamy. In a 
regime lacking any precise rule governing the succession the Harem 
was perhaps the chief menace. It produced a horde of rival princes, 
each backed by a jealous mother. For the king the problem was ever 
present. Should he send his younger brothers to govern remote 
provinces? That would make it easy for them to rebel. Should he then 
keep them at court, under his own eye? Why, then they would 
poison him. 

There was no real answer to the problem. Kautalya suggests that 
the Harem should be isolated, walled, moated and approached by a 
single well-guarded door. The guards should be females, eunuchs or 
old men.^ In fact, a Hindu palace seems to have been organised as 
much to ensure safety as comfort. 

Everything bespeaks precaution. The structure of the palace itself 
includes mazes, secret and underground passages, hollow pillars, 
hidden staircases, collapsible floors. Against fire, poisonous animals, 
and other poisons there is diverse provision, includmg trees which 
snakes avoid, parrots and carika birds which cry out on seeingaserpent, 
other birds which are variously aff"ected by the sight of poison. Every- 
one has his own apartment, and none of the interior officials are 
allowed to communicate with the outside. . . . Material objects, as they 
pass in and out, are placed on record and under seal. According to 
Megasthenes (XXVI I, 15) the king changes his apartment every night. 
The kitchen is a secret place and there is a multitude of tasters. . . ." 

As this passage suggests, the Civil Service was large. Nor was it 
confined to the royal residence. We learn of a revenue system drawing 
its funds from an excise on liquor, gambling, salt and prostitution. 
We have salary lists showing that the Purohita and Crown Prince 
were paid on the same scale and twice as highly as anyone else. We 
find the physician placed on a salary scale level with the chariot- 

' The Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. p. 122 
^ Cambridge Modern History- Vol. \. p. 493. By F. W. Thomas. 


driver, horsetrainer and carpenter, receiving half the income paid to 
a captain of infantry. We find much of the apparatus of modern 
government, with procedures similar to those of governments which 
still exist. What we do not find is any suggested alternative to mon- 
archy. For the result of any palace plot or assassination could only 
be to replace one king by another. It involved no threat to monarchy 

To find an example of a king who managed to retain all the 
combined authority of patriarch, priest, ruler and war-leader, we 
must turn to Europe and to that period in history when monarchy 
was at its height. For it was in Europe that the idea of nationalism 
gave to kingship that additional splendour which only a united people 
could give. The king with merely paternal power could be no more 
than the senior among others of almost equal authority. The king too 
closely identified with God might tend (as in Egypt or Japan) to become 
the stuffed dummy of religious veneration and practical impotence. 
The king entirely occupied in the business of government may be 
caught in the wheels of his own routine (as happened, no doubt, to 
many Indian kings). The king, finally, who is primarily a leader in 
war (like a seventeenth century Prince of Orange) will be unpopular if 
the war goes badly and redundant when it is over. Greatest in power 
was the king who avoided each of these pitfalls. Greatest, in fact, was 
Louis XIV. He lacked the absolute power of a modern dictator; to 
which no king could possibly have aspired. But within the religious 
and traditional framework of monarchy he had perhaps as great an 
authority as one man has ever borne; not so much from any unique 
quality in him as from the wave of nationalist feeling upon which 
he rode. 

Nationalism was the sentiment which grew up in the later Middle 
Ages in such kingdoms as were then unified (or in process of unifi- 
cation) within strategic and defined frontiers which enclosed people 
who were coming to speak a single language. Medieval kingdoms had 
often been scattered territories — part in France, for example, and 
part in England or Spain — comprising peoples differing from each 
other in customs and speech. Formidable were the first consolidated 
states, of which England was among the earliest. Rival kings en- 
deavoured to follow suit, creating national realms, each from fear of 
the other. France arose from fear of England, Great Britain was 
formed from fear of Spain, Germany from fear of France, Austria- 
Hungary from fear of Germany and Italy from fear of Austria. 
Nationalism was the unifying force and the Holy Roman Empire and 
Italy were for long weakened by the lack of it. Nationalism was 
expressed in monarchy and sad was the fate of Poland which had 
only an elective crown. The two biggest exceptions to the rule of 


kingship in seventeenth century Europe were the Netherlands and 
England, and these reverted to monarchy under the pressure of war, 
and indeed under the pressure of war with each other. They ended 
their conflict not only both monarchies but both, momentarily, 
under the same monarch. By the last half of the seventeenth century, 
nationalist monarchy had become the fashion and Louis XIV of 
France was the model of what a national monarch should be. 

Louis had and retained all the basic elements of power but 
heightened by the love of his subjects for the France they saw 
embodied in him, a France to be defined by the Alps, the Pyrenees 
and the Rhine. 'The King's authority was very nearly the same as 
that exercised by the head of a family', writes Paul VioUet,^ and 
Louis himself told his expected successor to 'Think of them as your 
children' and 'Set your subjects an example that a Christian father 
sets his family'. This tradition of royal fatherhood was strong and had 
been especially maintained by Henri IV who once told his Parlement 
'You see me in my private room . . . like the head of a family [come] 
to speak frankly to my children'. With it went the king's special 
responsibilities in receiving petitions and settling disputes. But the 
King also had his share of divinity. Louis was convinced, for one, 
that his authority was delegated to him by God, and indeed conferred 
at his coronation. It was, he admitted, a secular authority, for he 
conceded the Pope a measure of control in his own proper sphere. 
Suger had described Louis VI as 'the Vicar of God Whose living 
image he bears in himself- and the idea had lost nothing of its force 
when Louis XIV ruled in his turn. In his Memoirs (assuming them to 
be genuine) he clearly explains the view he took of his own sacred 

. . . occupying, so to speak, the place of God, we seem to be sharers of 
His knowledge, as well as of His authority. 

Exercising as we do the Divine function here below. . . . 

Kings, whom God appoints the sole guardians of the public 
weal. . . .^ 

Pictures of his coronation show that even Catholic ritual could 
afford him a position as God's representative on earth. But that was 
not all, for there was an added pagan feeling about Versailles, where 
the motif of the Sun or of Apollo pervaded the architecture, the 
sculpture and the painting. In the background, behind the Christian 
theology, the King's magical and life-giving powers remained; a 
legacy from Rome and Egypt. But his belief in his divine mission 

' The Old Regime in France. Frantz Funck-Brentano. 1926. Trans, by H. Wilson. 
London, 1929. p. 145. 

- Funck-Brentano, op. cit. p. 149. 

' Quoted in The Splendid Century. W. H. Lewis, p. 41. 


Stopped short of the absurd. If he was something of a pubhc idol at 
Versailles, he could relax at Marly and be a man again. 

He ran less risk of becoming an idol than he did of being caught in 
the wheels of administration. As St. Simon remarked, 'Give me an 
almanac and a watch and ... I will tell you what the King is doing'. 
His daily routine was not invariable but it is reminiscent, at least, of 
the time-table prepared for Indian kings by Indian philosophers (see 
pp. 62-63). It seems to have followed some such plan as this: — ^ 

8.00 a.m. 

The King is called 

8.15 a.m. 

Greetings by Ministers and Court 

9.00 a.m. 


10.00 a.m. 


12.30 p.m. 

Chapel Royal for Mass 

1.00 p.m. 

Visits the Ladies 

2.00 p.m. 


3.30 p.m. 


5.00 p.m. 


7.00 p.m. 

Reception, with music 

10.00 p.m. 


11.00 p.m. 

Visits the Ladies 

11.30 p.m. 

Receives Ministers and Court 

12.00 p.m. 


Louis considered it his duty to know everything (especially his own 
country), to work eight or nine hours a day, to do justice and show 
mercy and to put the good of the State before every other con- 
sideration. He considered himself responsible for his work to God, 
and to God alone. He had given serious thought to the nature of 
monarchy and pointed out that, in lands where there was no king 
'Instead of having one sovereign power as they should, nations are 
subject to the whims of a thousand tyrants'."^ That he assumed the 
entire responsibility for day-to-day administration is shown from 
his own Memoirs in which he writes: — 

It is always worse for the public to control the government than to 
support even a bad government which is directed by Kings whom God 
alone can judge. . . . Those acts of Kings that are in seeming violation 
of the rights of their subjects are based upon reasons of State — the 
most fundamental of all motives, as everyone will admit, but one often 
misunderstood by those who do not rule.^ 

' Based on Funck-Brentano and W. H. Lewis, op. cit. Some of the hours given are 
only approximate and some, in fact, varied. Supper, e.g. might be as late as 11.30. 
-Louis XIV. Louis Bcrtrand. Trans. C. B. Chase. New York, 1928. p. 312 
^ Ibid. See p. 313. See also A King's lessons in statecraft. Ed. by J. Longnon. London, 


Reasons of State are thus comprehended only by the King and 
those who assist him. Nor, it is obvious from Louis XIV's practice, 
was his power — derived both from God and from Reasons of State — 
to be shared with others. He did not rule through his nobles but 
through middle-class officials like Colbert and Louvois. There were 
Councils of State, of Despatches, of Finance, of Commerce and of 
Conscience, together with a Privy Council. The Secretaries of State 
held key positions but with authority directly derived from the King. 
They merely gave advice when it was required and then carried out 
decisions which the king had made. 

The nobles, whose birth, property and privilege might have given 
them a measure of independent authority, more especially in the 
provinces, were rendered impotent, partly by their own Caste system 
and partly by deliberate royal policy. Caste in France had the same 
political result as in India. It prevented any other man combining (as 
the king did) the powers of the divine, the intellectual, the financier 
and the soldier. The Nobility of the Sword, itself split into jealous 
categories, was forbidden to engage in trade — forbidden by a 
sixteenth century decree enacted at the instance of the merchants 
themselves.^ The Nobility of the Robe had a monopoly of official and 
legal offices but were practically excluded from high rank in the army, 
v/hich was reserved for Nobles of Ancestry or anyway of Birth. The 
Financier or Banker might purchase a title of nobility but would 
remain, socially, non-existent. Bishops and Abbots, of noble birth, 
had something like a monopoly of education but were kept from 
political power and vowed to celibacy. - 

What caste had begun the king took care to finish. The experiences 
of his youth had taught him to deprive the nobles of political office 
and experience (save in diplomacy). This left them idle and poten- 
tially mischievous. Louis wanted to have them, therefore, under his 
own eye, and adopted, therefore, a policy such as had long been 
familiar at the Imperial Court of Japan. He gave many of the highest 
nobles a sinecure position in his own household, one involving 
ceremonial duties and a constant attendance at court. Others attended 
to angle for such sinecures, others to avoid the royal displeasure 
which their absence would attract, and others again (the lesser fry) 
attached themselves to the greater. By the end of Louis XIV's long 
reign, the nobles' lives had come to centre on the king, on the routine 
and ceremonial of monarchy. Their lives had come to centre, in fact, 
on Versailles. 

Versailles was built, largely, between 1669 and 1710, although much 

' This law was not repealed until 1756. 

^ See The European Nobility in the Eighteenth Centurv. Ed. by A. Goodwin. London, 
1953. See pp. 22-42. 


of what now exists is of later date. The lesser palaces of Trianon 
and Marly were built after 1688. They do not represent a personal 

The cost of Versailles was not undertaken for a man, it was under- 
taken for a nation; the man and the nation were indistinguishable. Its 
gigantic size is the crowd surrounding monarchy, its continual level 
lines are the timelessness of monarchy: the claim to be enduring.^ 

Versailles was certainly a shrine of nationalism as symbolised by 
kingship. But it was also the place where an entire upper nobility 
was absorbed in entertainment, clothes, retinue, building, ritual and 
gambling. Life at court was exhausting, splendid, tedious, dazzling, 
comfortless and costly. Before utterly condemning all this frivolity, 
however, let us remember that Louis was actually governing the 
country from Versailles. 

The king, we have seen, combined powers which were paternal, 
divine and administrative. He was also the leader in war. Kingship 
represented nationalism and the first thing to be nationalised was 
war. It was the seventeenth century which saw the organization of 
national armies on lines we still follow, invented by Maurice of 
Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus. It is from the seventeenth century 
that we derive the Regiment, Battalion, Squadron, Company and 
Troop; the Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, Captain, Lieut- 
enant, Sergeant and Corporal. And the holders of these ranks drew 
no authority from their own titles of nobility but solely from the 
king's commission or appointment. War was thus nationalised and 
only battles 'royal' would henceforth be allowed. Nor would the king 
himself be absent. He was present at battles — or, to be more precise, 
at sieges — and shared a life under canvas with his generals. He could 
be quite accurately depicted in contemporary art as astride his 
charger. Between the legs of his horse could be seen the smoke 
drifting lazily over the threatened bastion, while (nearer the eye) the 
pioneers might be glimpsed pressing forward from the second parallel 
to the third. And while his generals may sometimes have prayed for 
his departure, his presence may well at times have been eflTective, more 
especially in convincing the other side that they would have to capitu- 
late in the end. So Louis could be fairly regarded as a war leader and 
one who was, in fact, almost constantly at war. His prestige stood 
high so long as he could be represented as victorious. 

Nationalism was the force that lifted Louis to such an unexampled 
height of power. To the authority of paternity, religion, government 
and war leadership he could add the growing sentiment which made 
him the symbol of France itself. He could represent a growing unity 

' Monarchy. A Study of Louis XIV. Hilaire Belloc. London, 1938. pp. 327-328. 


within a defensible frontier. He could typify French resistance to the 
Habsburgs and the old idea of the Empire. His was not the power of 
the modern dictator, who can crush all opposition by force. His was 
rather the greater prestige of one with whom his subjects can identify 
themselves. His magnificence was theirs, his palace was theirs, his 
fame was that of France and so theirs again. There is little reason for 
supposing that the French peasants grudged the cost of Versailles. 
There is more reason to suppose that they gloried in it. 


Monarchy justified by Divine Right 

WE must not expect to find arguments set forth to justify 
monarchy in countries or during periods which offered no 
possible alternative. Monarchy is perhaps the more established 
when it is not justified but merely assumed. This was not true of 
medieval Europe. From as early, however, as the fifth century a.d., 
monarchy was one alternative among other formsof rule. There were 
propagandists, moreover, who upheld the royal authority. One of 
these, quoted by Jonas of Orleans and Hincmar of Rheims, adjured 
the king: 

to prevent theft; to punish adultery; not to exalt the wicked to 
power; not to nourish unchaste persons and actors; to destroy the 
wicked from the face of the earth ... to defend churches . . . not to 
give ear to the superstitions of magicians, soothsayers and pythonesses; 
to put away anger ... to hold the Catholic faith in God . . . etc.^ 

The duties, which are stated, indicate the powers, which are 
implied. But better arguments for monarchy come, as might be 
expected, from England, where a national monarchy was first 
extablished. The earlier of two notable propagandists was the 
anonymous author of several treatises written between 1080 and 
1 104. He may have been from that date in the household 
of the Archbishop of York.-^ This author would make the King 
God's Representative, with bishops and clergy his subordinates. The 
King, he says, is 'Vicar of God' as from his coronation and the Pope 
is only Bishop of Rome. The later and more moderate advocate of 
kingship is John of Salisbury, author of PoUcraticus or The States- 
man s Book (of 1159) and a friend of Pope Adrian IV. He wrote as 
follows: — 

For myself I am satisfied and persuaded that loyal shoulders should 
uphold the power of the ruler; and not only do I submit to his power 
patiently, but with pleasure, so long as it is exercised in subjection to 
God and follows His ordinances. But on the other hand if it resists 
and opposes the divine commandments and wishes to make me share 

' Tlie Statesman's Bootc of Jolui of Salisbury. Trans, by John Dickinson. New York, 
1927. Introduction, p. liii. 

' Autliorilv and Reason in tlie Earlv Middle Ages. A. J. Macdonald. Oxford, 1933. 
p. 115. 



in its war against God; then with unrestrained voice I answer back 
that God must be preferred before any man on earth. Therefore 
inferiors should cleave and cohere to their superiors, and all the limbs 
should be in subjection to the head; but always and only on condition 
that religion is kept inviolate. . . . 

. . . whatsoever is attempted foully and with malice against the head, or 
corporate community, of the members, is a crime of the greatest 
gravity and nearest to sacrilege; for as-the latter is an attempt against 
God, so the former is an attack upon theprince, who is admitted to be 
as it were the likeness of deity upon earth. ^ 

In fact, a principal medieval argument for kingship was based on 
the belief that Heaven is a Monarchy and that Earth should be the 
same. All earthly lordship, as Gierke writes, was 'a limited rep- 
resentation of the divine Lordship of the world'.'- The analogy of 
head and members was also a favourite medieval metaphor; and 
there are University Heads of Departments even now. 

An even greater medieval political thinker was St. Thomas Aquinas 
himself (1227-1274) who in his De Regimine Principum analysed 
forms of government very much as Aristotle had done but with this 
difference that he regarded the State as serving the individual and not 
the other way about. He too defends monarchy (preferably elective) 
provided that its claims do not conflict with those of the Church. 
,His argument runs thus: — 

. . . That is best which most nearly approaches a natural process, since 
nature always works in the best way. Among members of the body there 
is one which moves all the rest, namely the heart: in the soul there is 
one faculty which is pre-eminent, namely, reason. The bees have one 
king, and in the whole universe there is one God, Creator and Lord 
of all . . . it follows of necessity that the best form of government in 
human society is that which is exercised by one person.^ 

But St. Thomas's monarch has the support of the Church only 
while subordinate to it. For the object of the people in forming a 
society is to live virtuously and 'come to the enjoyment of God'. The 
lay ruler cannot lead them to this and 'under Christ's Law, kings 
must be subject to priests'.'* So it happened that the lay rulers of 
Rome came, by divine providence, to be the subjects of the Pope. 
How could the Kingdom of God be otherwise ruled? 

. . . The administration of this Kingdom has been committed, not to 
the kings of this world, but to priests, in order that the spiritual should 

The Statesman's Book of John of Salisburv. Trans, by John Dickinson. New York, 
1927. Chap. XXV. pp. 258-259. 

"^Legacy of the Middle Ages. p. 518. 

^ Aquinas. Selected political writings. Ed. A. P. D'Entreves. Trans. J. G. Dawson. 
Oxford, 1948. pp. 12-13. 

* Aquinas, op. cit. pp. 12-13. 


be distinct from the temporal ; and above all to the Sovereign Roman 
Pontiff, the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, to whom all the 
kings of Christian people should be subject as to our Lord Jesus 
Christ Himself.^ 

There are, he argued, two orders of kingship, but the spiritual is 
supreme over the temporal and the Pope has the power to deprive a 
sovereign, by excommunication, of the right to rule. On this subject, 
where St. Thomas was moderate, other Papal supporters were violent. 
Some, like Manegold of Lautenbach argued that King and Emperor 
could alike be removed by the people themselves for misconduct. 

If one should engage a man for a fair wage to tend swine, and he find 
means not to tend but to steal or slay them, would not one remove him 
from his charge?^ 

Others, and Innocent III among them, were intent to show that 
Charlemagne was given his Empire by the Pope and that the Empire, 
whenever vacant, reverted to the Pope again. It was Augustin Trionfo 
(in the reign of John XXII) who went further than this, maintaining^ 
that the Pope is supreme and that from his will there is no appeal, 
not even to God. The Pope, by his theory, could depose any Emperor 
and choose another. Ptolemy of Lucca (who completed St. Thomas's 
book) maintains that the Pope is Emperor by right and merely dele- 
gates his authority to laymen."^ The claims on this score of Boniface 
VIII, who triumphed over the Emperor, went even beyond those of 
Innocent III. 

These extreme views of Papal authority became more difficult to 
sustain after 1305, when there was a rival French Pope set up at 
Avignon. Pierre du Bois, writing at that time (c. 1307), wanted to 
destroy the temporal power of Church and Pope. He wished, in 
effect, to make the King of France the ruler of Christendom, or 
perhaps even Emperor. He desired to confiscate church property and 
set up a League of Nations and International Courts of Law. His 
De Recuperatione Terrae Sanctae is a remarkably prophetic book. 
Pierre du Bois looks to the future while his contemporary, Dante 
Alighieri, looks only to the past. But Dante's De Monarchia (c. 1309), 
written as it was in a lost cause, is interesting as a reflection of what 
Imperial protagonists had been no doubt arguing long before. 
Writes Dante: 

Now it is admitted that the whole human race is ordained for a 

' The Social and Political Ideas of some great Medieval Thinkers. Ed. by F. J. C. 
Hearnshaw. London, 1923. p. lOL 

* Illustrations of the History of Medieval Thought and Learning. Reginald Lane Poole. 
London, 1932. p. 203. 

^ Poole, op. cii. pp. 222-223. 

' Cainbi tdge Medieval History. Vol. VI. p. 632. 


single end, as was set forth before. Therefore there must be one guiding 
or ruling power. And this is what we mean by monarch or emperor. 
Thus it appears that for the well-being of the world there must be a 
monarchy or empire.^ 

But this argument from necessity is the least part of his case. He 
shows that the Roman Empire 'in subjecting the world to itself, did 
so by right';- a right proved above all by the fact of Christ choosing 
to be born under Roman rule and at a moment chosen 'in order that 
the Son of God, made man, might be enrolled as a man in that 
unique register of the human race' that Augustus had ordered. 
'Christ, then, gave assurance by deed that the edict of Augustus . . . 
was just', — and hence that the Romans ruled with God's consent. 
Nor is the Pope an intermediary. The Emperor's authority comes 
directly to him from God — 'descends upon him without any mean 
from the fountain of universal authority'. ■' 

Rather later than Dante (in 1324) came Marsiglio with his 
^Defensor Pacis"^ which does not stop at merely defending elective 
monarchy as a necessary expedient or a thing approved by God. He 
attacks Papal pretensions to rule at all, maintaining that 'the power 
of the clergy is . . . not only restricted to spiritual affairs: it can only 
be given effect to by spiritual means'. There is nothing coercive about 
the Gospel and all texts which may seem to authorise the temporal 
power or jurisdiction of the clergy are flatly contradicted by the text 
'My kingdom is not of this world'. Marsiglio was propagandist for 
the Emperor against John XXII but his arguments are practically 
those of the Reformation. 

Medieval political thinkers were relatively few and it would be 
rash, no doubt, to base too many theories on the few of their works 
that have survived. It would seem, however, that they could find good 
cause to support monarchy but differed from each other as to the 
proper relations which should exist between King and Church. 
While the more nationally minded in England, and later in France, 
were eager to invest the King with religious powers, it is clear that 
actual kings were always controlled, in some measure, by the Church, 
and often handicapped by their own lack of knowledge.^ John of 
Salisbury urges that a prince should always be able to read. 'If, 
nevertheless, out of consideration for other distinguished virtues, it 

' A Translation of the Latin Works of Dante Alighieri. Temple Classics. 1934. De 
Monarchia. p. 141. 

^ Dante, op. cii. p. 195. 

^ Dante, op. cit. p. 279. 

* Lane Poole, op. cit. p. 230 et scq. See also Legacy of the Middle Ages. p. 520. 
The Defensor Pads was written by Marsiglio of Padua and John of Jandun, 'two pupils 
of damnation'. 

' But the king was not exactly a layman either. See Kingship and Law in the Middle 
Ages. F. Kern. Trans, by S. B. Chrimes. Oxford, 1948. p. 38. 


should chance that the prince is illiterate, it is needful that he take 
counsel of men of letters if his affairs are to prosper rightly'/ And 
where would he find men of letters, save in the Church? But if the 
king were thus limited in power, the consensus of opinion was in 
favour of monarchy as such. The most fervent advocates of Papal 
power and clerical privilege were far, as a rule, from demanding the 
abolition of kingship. In proclaiming that kings should be subordi- 
nate they implied at least that kings should exist. 

Last of the medieval thinkers we should notice is Nicolo Machia- 
velli who was born in 1469 and was therefore about 25 when Italy 
was invaded by the French, the Italian tov/ns and castles falling before 
a relatively novel use of artillery. Machiavelli held public office in 
Florence from 1494 to 1512, and was then sent into exile. First fruit 
of his leisure was his book The Prince, completed in 1513. It contains 
maxims of statecraft based on the tortuous byways of Italian politics 
and is interesting in that it illustrates how completely dead were 
Medieval ideals in Italy before anything new was invented to replace 
them. Obsessed by the contrast between the glories of ancient Rome 
and the futile impotence of the Italian States he knew, Machiavelli 
demanded a restoration of everything ancient. Apart from that, he 
completely mistook the causes of the Italian failure in war and 
diplomacy. Nor do his subtle maxims foreshadow the behaviour of 
the new kings of the newly consolidated nation states. These kings 
were feeling their way towards a new conception of monarchy, and 
it was before this new reality that all the Italian subtleties would be 
blown away like cobwebs. 

The Reformation had much to do with it. The kings who denied 
Papal authority and confiscated Church lands added the powers of 
Pope to the powers of King and used both to stamp out feudalism. 
But the Papacy was so weakened by this defection that the Catholic 
Kings gained an almost equal independence as the reward for their 
loyalty. Nationalism, in this religious aspect, was not a movement 
inspired by kings for their own benefit. It was a genuine movement 
among people who willingly invested their national king with the 
powers of Emperor, Pope, Church and Peerage. So far from being the 
unscrupulous and futile Prince of Machiavelli's imagining, the 
sixteenth century king became far more than a man. He was to em- 
body in himself the whole territory he ruled, focussing its divergent 
provinces, centralising its language and moulding its peoples into one. 
Shakespeare illustrates this process in Henry V, showing not merely 
the sixteenth century glory of kingship but the almost intolerable 
burden of responsibility which the king had now assumed. 

' The Statesman's Book of John of Salisburv. Trans, by John Dickenson. New York, 


Upon the king! let us our lives, our souls 
Our debts, our careful wives 
Our children, and our sins lay on the king! 
We must bear all. O hard condition ! 
Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath 
Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel 
But his own wringing. What infinite heart's ease 
Must kings neglect that private men enjoy! 
And what have kings that privates have not too 
Save ceremony, save general ceremony ? . . . . 
'Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball, 
The sword, the mace, the crown imperial. ... 

Note the expressions used 'our souls' (hitherto the affair of the 
Church), 'the balm' (of Coronation), and 'the crown imperial'. 
Shakespeare was watching the birth of a new idea; that of sovereignty 
on the national scale; the unchecked sovereignty of the king. 

It did not at first seem inevitable that nationalism would produce a 
kingship of this kind. Sir Thomas More, born in 1478, almost alone 
among political thinkers in having a practical knowledge of govern- 
ment, makes his Utopia a national state but with a ruler elected 
merely for life. His returned traveller thinks that 'the kingdom of 
France alone is almost greater than that it may well be governed by 
one man' and that a French King would be foolish to seek more 
territory elsewhere. He assumes that France, like Utopia, should be 
a national state. Luther firmly supported any prince against any 
rebellion and, after 1531, held that it was for the ruler to put down 
false doctrine, Erasmus, by contrast, pleaded for a limited monarchy 
but did so before a dwindling audience.^ The age of Divine Right had 
already dawned. 

In the published works of James I of England we find the theory of 
Divine Right explained by one who professed to inherit it. Beginning 
his theorising in 1598, he explained that the King is God's minister 
and lieutenant and monarchy the form of government nearest to that 
of heaven.^ The hereditary king is responsible to God, not to his 
people, nor to the Laws. Resistance to a lawful monarch is against 
Holy Scripture, even should he rule wickedly. As time went on and as 
he met opposition, James put his claims in an even more extreme 
form. 'The state of monarchy', he declared in 1609, 'is the supremest 
thing on earth'. Kings are justly called gods, for their powers are a 
replica of the Divine omnipotence. Like God they may 'make and 
unmake their subjects . . . they have power of raising and casting 

' Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance. M. M. Phillips. London, 1949. Chap. 4. 
p. 123 et seq. 

^ The Social and Political Ideas of some great Thinkers of the \6th and Mth Centuries. 
Ed. by F. J. C. Hearnshaw. London, 1926. Chapter V. pp. 105-129. 


downe; of life and of death. , . . They have power to exalt low things 
and abase high things, and make of their subjects like men at the 
chesse. . . .'James carried this doctrine to its limit as only a Protestant 
might. 'It is atheisme and blasphemic to dispute what God can doe, 
so it is presumption and high contempt in a subject, to dispute what 
a King can doe. . . .' 

It is too commonly assumed that claims such as these were uni- 
versally resented from the first. They were not alien, however, to the 
author of Henry V, nor presumably to the audience for which his 
plays were produced. The divinity attaching to the monarch seems to 
have been welcome, in fact, so long as there was another and foreign 
monarch to oppose. Divine Right was always acceptable if it were the 
right to claim God's help against the alien. Erasmus was quick to 
notice how ardent were the clergy in preaching: 

... a just, a religious, or a holy war. And which is yet more wonderful, 
they make it to be God's Cause on both sides. God fights for us, is the 
cry of the French pulpits; and what have they to fear that have the 
Lord of Hosts for their Protector? — Acquit yourselves like men, say 
the English and the Spaniard, and the victory is certain; for this is 
God's cause, not Caesar's. . . } 

As against the divinely guided Philip II of Spain, Elizabeth could 
not be invested with too much divine authority. Once this had been 
done, however, it was not easy (at least in logic) to deny the same 
divinity to a duly anointed successor — and even to one at peace with 
Spain. The English clergy in 1640 agreed that 

'The most high and sacred order of kings is of Divine Right, being 
the ordinance of God Himself, founded in the prime laws of nature, and 
clearly established by express texts both of the Old and New Testa- 
ments'. - 

As late as 1681 we find the University of Cambridge conceding to 
Charles II, in a public address, exactly the authority claimed by 
James I. 

We still believe and maintain that our kings derive not their title 
from the people but from God; that it belongs not to subjects, either 
to create or censure but to honour and obey their sovereign, who 
comes to be so by a fundamental hereditary right of succession, which 
no religion, no law, no fault or forfeiture can alter or diminish.^ 

Nor should it be assumed that responsibility towards God was, in 
the seventeenth century, a mere form of words. It was not a way of 

' Social and Political Ideas of the Renaissance and RefonnUion. Fd. F. J. C. Hcarn- 
shaw. p. 168. 

'The Divine Right of Kings. J. N. Figgis. Cambridge, 1922. p. 142. 
" The Seventeenth Century. G. N. Clark, p. 224. 


saying that the King was not responsible at all. His responsibility was 
heavy and the average king v/as well aware of it. He might be 
allowed a divine sanction coupled with an absolute power but that 
divine sanction in itself set bounds to the way in which the power 
might be used. His power was limited not so much by any political 
opposition as by the very nature of his office. Although, as we shall 
see, there were practical arguments used in favour of kingship, there 
can be no doubt that it was the appeal to Holy Writ which carried 
more weight among the people at large. Nationalism and Divine 
Right were basically the same idea, the latter always acceptable when 
the former was in danger. 


Monarchy justified by Expedience 

IT was not until republicanism appeared in religious guise that 
arguments, other than religious, were needed to justify kingship. 
Calvin's arrival in Switzerland in 1534 heralded the setting up there of 
a Calvinist Republic at Geneva. Calvin converted what was already 
an oligarchy of merchants into a protestant theocracy. The Genevan 
magistrates were to see to it that God was obeyed, defaulters punished 
and heretics killed. Henceforth it might well be insufficient, at least in 
protestant circles, to show that monarchy was approved by God. It 
could not even be shown that monarchy was approved by all godly 
persons, for this was no longer true. It became increasingly necessary 
to find other arguments by which godly believers in Monarchy might 
convince equally godly republicans. There had to be an appeal to 
reason and the number gradually increased (in the later seventeenth 
century) of those to whose reason an appeal could be hopefully 
addressed. A few of those who had fought over monarchy in youth 
were willing to discuss its merits and defects in middle age. 

First of these pure theorists was Jean Bodin, born in 1529, whose 
Six books of the Republic^ date from 1576. Bodin was a law teacher 
and advocate who held a position at one time in the household of the 
Due d'Alengon. He may have been a protestant at one period but 
later became a freethinker. He wrote in defence of the French 
Monarchy, which was hardly then established. His ideas are some- 
what confused but he argues, first and foremost, that there must be 
a sovereign power in the State and that this power must be vested in 
the King. A group, he maintains, cannot have a will. 

In a democracy sovereignty is vested in a majority: and a majority 
is not only, at best, an ignorant, foolish and emotional mob, but shifts 
continually and alters from year to year.- 

He thus dismisses the idea of democracy, pointing out that men are 
unequal and that there is less real liberty in a democracy than under 
any other form of rule. 'True popular liberty consists in nothing else 
than ability to enjoy one's goods in peace, fearing not at all for one's 

' The Social and Political Ideas of some great Thinkers of the \6th and 17 th Centuries. 
Ed. by F. J. C. Hearnshaw. London, 1926. See pp. 42-62. 

- A Historv of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century. J. W. Allen. London, 1951. 

pp. 437, 483. 



life and honour or that of one's wife and family'. Nor is he more 
inchned to favour an aristocratic State which he thinks will certainly 
be ruined by the feuds and jealousies of its members. Only a monarch 
can ensure order and none but a monarch can create any sense of 
unity. So Bodin bases his plea for monarchy, not on God but on the 
nature of things; one of the things being private property. Arguments 
such as these were still more or less heretical and Thomas Hobbes, 
using similar reasoning at a far later date, was promptly dubbed an 
atheist. As mathematical tutor to Charles II, he was once free to 
expound his ideas before a fairly attentive audience. Charles's 
subsequent views were more akin to those of Hobbes than to those 
of James I. 

Hobbes begins his argument in Leviathan (165!) by supposing that 
men were once in 'a state of nature'. Complete liberty for all then 
makes peace impossible. Men thus live in chaos, war and fear. 

In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit 
thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth, no 
Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; 
no commodious Building; no instruments of moving, and removing 
such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the 
Earth; no account of time; no arts; no Letters; no Society; and which 
is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death. . . } 

To escape from this misery, men agree (as reason suggests) to laws. 
It is found, however, that the self-interest of individuals leads to the 
laws being broken. Men cannot be bound by words. Laws, to be 
useful, must be enforced. They need, therefore, a Common Power 
for defence against foreigners and against each other. Such a power 
can result only from each individual surrendering a part of his 
natural rights, to be vested in one man or one assembly, to which all 
must then submit their will and their judgment. 

This is more than Consent or Concord; it is a real Unity of them all, 
in one and the same Person, made by Covenant of every man with 
every man, in such a manner as if every man should say to every man, 
I authorise and give my Right of Governing myselfe, to this Man, or 
to this Assembly of Men, on this condition, that thou give up thy right 
to him, and authorise all his Actions in like manner. This done, the 
Multitude so united in one Person is called a Common-Wealth. . . . 
This is the Generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather (to speak 
more reverently) of that Mortal God, to which we owe under the 
Immortal God, our peace and defence. . . . And he that carrieth this 
Person is called SOVERAIGN and said to have Soveraign Power; 
and every one besides, his SUBJECT.^ 

Hobbes is careful to explain that the Sovereign himself (or itself) is 

' Leviathan. Thomas Hobbes. Everyman Edition, 1937. pp. 64-65. 
' Leviathan, p. 91. 


no party to the contract. The subjects have made an agreement v^ith 
each other, not with him. He cannot break the contract for he has 
made none. He could make no agreement with the multitude as a 
contracting body for it did not exist as such until the contract was 
made. He could make no agreement with the individuals singly which 
would not be void as a result of their subsequent agreement among 
themselves. His rule, therefore, is absolute and he has promised 
nothing. As against that, the subject has surrendered only political 
rights, retaining his essential freedom: 

. . . such as is the Liberty to buy and sell, and otherwise contract 
with one another, to choose their own aboad, their own diet, their 
own trade of life, and institute their children as they themselves 
think fit. 

While thus enumerating almost the exact rights which the modern 
citizen has so largely lost, he reserves to the Sovereign the control of 
religion, reminding us of one of the few freedoms which the modern 
citizen has retained. 

Hobbes' Leviathan could be an assembly but he usually assumes 
that it will be a King. He does not regard the contract or covenant 
between subjects as an historical fact so much as an implied agree- 
ment. Whatever may be thought of this theory, Hobbes puts the case 
for sovereignty and shows that, with religion nationalised, there can 
be no legal limit to the powers of the Sovereign. He shows that, 
whatever the tyranny of the ruler, it is preferable to the tyranny of 
men over each other in a state of anarchy. He thus provides a reasoned 
basis for monarchy, claiming too that reason in political matters 
should prevail. 

The skill of making and maintaining Commonwealths, consisteth 
in certain Rules, as doth arithmetique and Geometry; not (as Tennis- 
play) on Practise onely: which Rules, neither poor men have the 
leisure, nor men that have the leisure, have hitherto had the curiosity, 
or the method to find out.^ 

It is a mathematician's approach and not acceptable even now. At 
the time, the arguments of a reputed atheist would carry little weight. 
His reasoning was far less acceptable than the awful logic of James I's 
teaching; that logic which led his son to execution. 

Although Sir Robert Filmer lived from 1588 to 1653, his chief 
work, Patriarcha, was not published until 1680, when it was used to 
justify the personal rule of Charles II.'- The doctrine of Divine Right 
had suffered under the Commonwealth, and the Restoration of 

^Leviathan. Thomas Hobbes. Everyman Edition, 1937. p. 110. 
= Patriarcha and other Political Works. Sir Robert Filmer. Ed. by Peter Laslett. 
Oxford, 1949. 


Charles II had been brought about by those whose behef in monarchy 
was of a severely practical kind. Filmer's arguments suited the Tory 
mood of the moment and were untainted by atheism. Filmer had 
written primarily to deny Bellarmine's thesis that 'Secular or civil 
power is instituted by men; it is in the people unless they bestow it on 
a Prince'. This Filmer refuted by writing: 

I see not then how the children of Adam, or of any man else, can be 
free from subjection to their parents. And this subordination of 
children is the fountain of all regal authority, by the ordination of 
God himself From whence it follows that civil power, not only in 
general is by Divine institution, but even the assigning of it specifically 
to the eldest parent. Which quite takes away that new and common 
distinction which refers only power universal or absolute to God, but 
power respective in regard of the special form of government to the 
choice of the people. Nor leaves it any place for such imaginary 
pactions between Kings and their people as many dream of.^ 

Here Filmer is on firm ground. For whatever weight we may give 
(or not give) to the Bible as the word of God, we must concede it 
some authority as anthropology. That paternal rule is a fact is as 
clear as that the theory of contract is only a theory. We need not 
follow Filmer, however, in tracing the ancestry of Kings by the elder 
Hne to Adam. Nor need we conclude, as he does, that to deny the 
rights of elder sons is to land oneself in 'the desperate inconveniences' 
of communism. 

Filmer then goes on- to show from history the imperfections of 
Democracy as compared with Monarchy : — 

Indeed, the world for a long time knew no other sort of government 
but only monarchy. The best order, the greatest strength, the most 
stability and easiest government are to be found in monarchy, and in 
no other form of government. The new platform of common-weals 
were first hatched in a corner of the world, amongst a few cities of 
Greece, which have been imitated by very few other places. Those very 
cities were first for many years governed by Kings, until wantonness, 
ambition or faction made them attempt new kinds of regiment. All 
which mutations proved most bloody and miserable to the authors of 
them, happy in nothing but that they continued but a small time. 

He goes on to consider the history of Rome, denying that it was a 
Republic for more than 480 years, at most, and showing that the great 
achievements of Rome date in fact from the time of the Emperors — - 
'For no democracy can extend further than to one city'. When it 
does extend further: 

As it is begot by sedition, so it is nourished by arms: it can never 

' Patriarcha. Sir Robei t Filmer. p. 57. 
== Ibid. pp. 86-93. 


Stand without wars, either with an enemy abroad, or with friends at 
home. The only means to preserve it is to have some powerful enemy 
near, who may serve instead of a King to govern it, that so, though they 
have not a King among them, yet they may have as good as a King 
over them, for the common danger of an enemy keeps them in better 
unity than the laws they make themselves. 

Events of the seventeenth century went some way towards proving 
Filmer's general thesis Popular Government more Bloody than a 
Tyranny'. Experience seemed to show that monarchy was best. 
Neither would Filmer have the king other than sovereign. In his 
pamphlet The Anarchy of a limited or mixed Monarchy he denies that 
the king can either share his power or submit to the laws — which are, 
after all, of the king's making. If the king's power is to be restricted by 
law, who is to enforce the law? Whatever the answer, sovereignty 
must lie in the enforcing power, not the king, and so the State in that 
event is not a monarchy at all. He takes the instance of Poland and 
concludes that it is a kind of republic. 

The example of Poland, added to the example of the Common- 
wealth in England, had a powerful effect on later seventeenth 
century and eighteenth century Europe; a far greater effect, certainly, 
than any arguments Filmer could take from Aristotle or the Bible. 
During the eighteenth century, more especially, the arguments for 
monarchy were based more and more upon its practical convenience, 
less and less upon its divine origin and sanction. And when we reach 
the later half of that century, the age of the enlightened despots, we 
find that the kings themselves claimed rather to be efficient than 
divinely inspired. Chief of the enlightened monarchs was Frederick 
the Great, who despised Christianity; and next to him came Catherine 
of Russia, a usurper. Both were admirers of Voltaire and of reason, 
and their contemporaries Charles of Naples, Charles III of Spain, 
Joseph of Portugal and George III of England and Hanover, could 
all claim to be enlightened rulers in their different ways. 

Spokesman for enlightened monarchy was Frederick of Prussia, 
from whose successive works, beginning with the Antimachiavel of 
1740, we gain a clear idea of how he viewed his own office. Having 
dismissed Christianity with these words: 

An old metaphysical romance, filled with marvels, contradictions 
and absurdity, born in the ardent imagination of Orientals, has spread 
into our Europe. Enthusiasts have purveyed it, careerists have 
pretended to accept it, imbeciles have believed it. {Second Political 
Testament, 1768).^ 

— he bases his monarchy on the assertion that hereditary rule is the 

' Frederic/< the Great, the Ruler, the Writer, the Man. G. P. Gooch. London, 1947. 
See Chapter XIL 


easiest system to work and that republics soon collapse. The king is 
no more than a man and, in being the first judge, the first general and 
the first financier, is at the same time essentially the first servant. 
Clearest statement of all comes in the Political Testament of 1752: — 

A well conducted government must have a system as coherent as a 
system of philosophy, so that finance, policy and the army are co- 
ordinated to the same end, namely, the consolidation of the state and 
the increase of its power. Such a system can only emanate from a 
single brain, that of the sovereign.^ 

Frederick and his contemporaries mostly took their ideas from 
France and, in particular, largely from Voltaire. The works of Voltaire 
are copious but he wrote no single volume upon politics. It is easier, 
in general, to discover what he disliked than what he approved. But 
while his attitude towards Frederick was not always cordial, his 
support of enlightened monarchy was fairly consistent. One would 
search in vain in his books for praise directed towards any other 
form of rule. 'Democracy' he writes 'seems suitable only to a very 
little country'.^ 

As for Equality: 

... it is as impossible for men to be equal as it is impossible for . . . 
two professors in theology not to be jealous of each other.^ 

He continues, moreover: — 

The human race, such as it is, cannot subsist unless there is an 
infinity of useful men who possess nothing at all. . . .* 

Nor does he show complete faith in any sort of parliament: 

One distinguishes between the tyranny of one man and that of 
many. . . . 

Under which tyranny would you like to live? Under neither; but if 
1 had to choose, I should detest the tyranny of one man less than that 
of many. A despot always has his good moments; an assembly of 
despots never.^ 

That Voltaire was not isolated in this preference is apparent from 
the works of Frangois Quesnay and the Physiocrats, who also, in the 
main, wanted to see power concentrated in the hands of a single 
enlightened ruler. 

In England, George 111 did not lack a measure of support among 
men of intellect. If Voltaire had perhaps the best brain in France, 

• Ibid. p. 282. 

'^ Voltaire's Pliilosophical Dictionary. Selected and translated by H. I. Wolfe. London 

'Ibid. p. 116. 
' Ibid. p. 117. 
^ Ibid. p. 308. 


Samuel Johnson had clearly one of the best brains in England. 
While differing from Voltaire in nearly everything else, Johnson had 
as little use for republics or for democracy. 

'So far is it from being true that men are naturally equal, that no 
two people can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an 
evident superiority over the other'. ^ 

On another occasion he said: — 

'Sir, you are to consider, that in our constitution, according to its 
true principles, the King is the head; he is supreme; he is above every- 
thing, and there is no power by which he can be tried'. - 

And again, 

'The mode of government by one may be ill adapted to a small 
society, but is best for a great nation'.^ 

And, finally, 

'. . . a prince of ability . . , might and should be the directing soul 
and spirit of his own administration. . . .'* 

Living in a country which had been itself a Republic, and sur- 
rounded by friends professing a wide variety of political opinions, 
Johnson could never be made to see that the world would be much 
improved by constitutional reforms. Said Boswell, on one occasion: 

'So, Sir, you laugh at schemes of political improvement.' 

And Johnson replied: 

'Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very 
laughable things.'^ 

Much work remains to be done on the political theory of en- 
lightened monarchy. Historians have been too hypnotised by the 
approach of the French Revolution to allow much importance to 
authors who cannot be included in the select list of its causes. But 
while there is much to do, we cannot expect further research to reveal 
a strength in enlightened monarchy which it did not and could not 
possess. For it is evident that the king who preached enlightenment 
had never a fraction of the prestige of the king who derived his 
authority from God. More than that, his authority derived more 
from the old doctrine than the new. His subjects still believed in 
divine right even when the king himself was exchanging letters with 

' BoswelPs Life of Johnson. Ed. by G. B. Hill. Revised by L. F. Powell. Six volumes. 
Oxford, 1934. Vol. II. p. 13. 
" Ihid. Vol. I. p. 423. 
■' Ibid. Vol. III. p. 46. 
' Ihid. Vol. II. p. 117. 
^ Ibid. Vol. II. p. 102. 


Voltaire. Once this capital sum of divinity had been expended, all 
that was left was the king's claim to be more efficient than any 
alternative form of government. But this was an insecure foundation 
for any permanent form of monarchy. The argument would be 
weakened as soon as a successful alternative appeared. The argument 
would be demolished as soon as the efficient king was succeeded by a 
less efficient heir. This danger was apparent to Frederick the Great 
himself who wondered, shortly before his death, whether his heir 
was fit to succeed at all. Should his nephew prove soft, idle, extrava- 
gant and uninspiring, he foretold that neither Prussia nor the house of 
Brandenburg would last a decade. 'I frame a thousand prayers' he 
wrote, 'that my forecast may be wrong, that my successors may do 
their duty like sensible beings, and that Fortune may avert the major 
part of the catastrophes by which we are threatened'.^ It is not clear 
to whom he was praying, but we may be justly critical, in any case, of 
a system of rule in which Fortune plays so large a part. No system will 
last for ever and here is one which cannot last for long. 

' Frederick the Great, the Ruler, the Writer, the Man. G. P. Gooch. London, 1947. 
p. 294. 





IN creating a nobility, kings prepare the way for their own downfall. 
Nor is the process avoidable. Their own children and grand- 
children form the basis of the nobility, their own generals and 
advisers form its successive accretions, their own conquests accelerate 
its growth. With a nobihty thus brought into existence, the king is 
faced with potential rivals for power. If he disperses them among 
distant provinces they will seek to gain independence. If he keeps 
them at hand, they will plot against him when not actually quarrelling 
with each other. Inevitably, the line of kings will be broken at some 
point by the succession of a child, a saint or an imbecile. When that 
moment comes, the nobles will try to seize power. If they fail to 
do so collectively, at the centre, the result is feudalism. 

While it would be wrong to describe this process as invariable, 
examples of it are at least fairly common. China, for instance, became 
a Feudal State towards the end of the Chou Dynasty (before 500 B.C.) 
and was ruled until about 250 B.C. by hereditary nobles with ranks 
corresponding to those of Duke, Marquis, Count and Baron. These 
in turn had their own vassals, their own advisers and officials, their 
own special training. This was the age, as it has been called, of the 
Warring States. Some shadow of the central government remained 
but its territory had fallen apart into so many almost independent 
fragments. According to one authority, these numbered at one time 
five or six thousand. A similar process is evident in Japanese history 
when a cultured and sophisticated court lost control of the provinces 
and saw them fall into the hands of local gentry, whose rivalries soon 
destroyed any semblance of unity or order. In England the king was 
for nearly a century, from 1399 to 1485, but the chief among the 
Dukes and Earls, having little more than precedence among the 
Nevilles and Talbots, the Beauchamps and Stanleys. 

Although we could find examples of Feudalism in India, China 
and Japan, Medieval Europe affords the classic background for 
chivalry. Granted that the priests of the period have told us their 
case, using a learning based on classic or holy writ, they have not 
distracted our attention entirely from the facts. The chief political 
fact was the armoured horseman, the tank of the period, on his own 
ground invincible. The second political fact was the stone-built, 



fortified castle. It was within a strategic framework of castles that the 
medieval kings, bishops and knights played their game of chess. And 
they played it according to rules evolved during the Crusades and 
largely copied from the other side. The effect of the Crusades was to 
bring European fighting men into close contact with the Arab world 
of horsemanship. They eventually came home with new horses and 
new ideas. The medieval world of Christendom was shaped by 
Oriental influences, copied from forms developed in Syria, derived 
from experience gained by Princes of Antioch and Counts of 
Tripolis, steeped in the legends of Ascalon, Tiberias, Trebizond and 
the Horns of Hattin. The Christian knights had learnt their chivalry 
in the desert. 

The medieval contributions to politics must be disassociated, surely, 
from Empire and Papacy and the struggle for the prize that was not 
there. The political interest of the Middle Ages must centre rather on 
what is more typical: chivalry, monasticism, the cities and the 
universities. These are the political equivalent of Gothic architecture. 
They represent ideas that were new then, unknown before and 
weakened since. They also represent, at bottom, the same political 
idea; the idea of an organisation which is not local (like a City State), 
nor all-embracing (like an Empire), but which exists in different and 
scattered places, comprising members who are bound together by a 
common loyalty and a common training. 

Chivalry, or Chevalerie, derived from the Arabs, is the basic con- 
ception and it means essentially a code of conduct among horsemen. 
The medieval armoured cavalryman was a man-and-horse, both 
carefully and expensively bred, trained and equipped. Descent 
mattered, both in the horse and in the man. Each needed a pedigree. 
Training mattered, too, and that of the knight covered his upbringing 
from the age of seven to the age of twenty-one; a training in how to 
ride, jump, wrestle, swim, hunt, hawk, joust and endure fatigue. But 
the knight's effectiveness in battle depended not only upon himself 
but upon a team of assistants — squire, page, grooms, armourer, 
spare horses and packhorses. There were five or six non-combatants 
for every man who fought. But the knight could not operate under 
certain conditions — in mountains, woods, marsh, night or fog. He 
was, like a modern tank, rather blind and rather dependent on 
auxiliaries. He needed time to arm and so could be surprised in camp 
unless guarded by infantry. Although relatively invulnerable in battle, 
he might quite easily find himself taken prisoner. He was too highly 
trained to know any occupations other than fighting, hunting and 
acting as judge. And even the hunting was not purely for sport. As 
Machiavelli pointed out: 

He must follow the chase, by which he accustoms his body to hardship, 


and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out 
how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains 
lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this 
to take the greatest care.^ 

The art was, in fact, to learn from hunting what the modern soldier 
learns from the map. A final characteristic of the knight lay in his 
attitude towards women. Removed from his mother and sisters at the 
age of seven, he was brought up in another household and there 
taught to attend the ladies with respect. His actual education was 
purely among men and his later way of life took him away from his 
womenfolk for considerable periods. He tended, perhaps for this 
reason, to idealise them; although not necessarily the one he had 
married. During his absence, on a Crusade, for example, his family 
might be almost unprotected. 

From these and other factors, some of them religious, a pattern of 
conduct emerges. To begin with, all knights in Christendom, (what- 
ever their quarrels with each other) were agreed on the necessity of 
maintaining their own order and making the peasants supply them 
and their servants with food and drink. In warfare among themselves 
they killed individuals but rarely slaughtered families of noble birth. 
They spared women, clergy and children by mutual agreement, 
partly to protect their own and avoid retaliation. They usually 
spared each other's squires, pages and grooms, as non-combatants. 
And the idea of sparing the unarmed leads at once to the indignation 
felt on finding others less scrupulous. This leads in turn to the idea of 
protecting the weak ; an idea implicit in the vows of knighthood. They 
usually fought, almost by agreement, on a chosen field and in day- 
light, without attempting any ruse, stratagem or surprise. They were 
quite used to being taken prisoner (which was not disgraceful) and 
treated their prisoners — if of equal rank — with just such consideration 
as they hoped to receive. They had, in fact, a code of etiquette. It still 
lingers, contrasting with the ideas of the Japanese, for example, 
whose etiquette is different. They had a science of heraldry, partly to 
identify friend and foe, superior and junior, on the battlefield; and 
partly to trace descent. They had heralds, who could safely approach 
the enemy. They abided, in general, by the rules of war. 

What are the political implications of chivalry? It involves, first of 
all, the idea of a politically privileged class, enjoying a particular 
power and prestige but earning it by such a training as many might 
fear to undergo and by such a continued and arduous service as 
others might well prefer to avoid. In assessing the knight's special 
prestige, inherited directly from nomadic traditions, we must 
distinguish sharply between respect and envy. We feel envy, perhaps, 

' The Prince. Trans, by W. K. Marriott. Everyman Edition. London, 1906. 


for those who are wealthy and surrounded by luxury but reserve our 
respect for those whose achievements are beyond us. The respect we 
may feel for the climbers who conquered Everest is not unconnected 
with the dismay we should most of us have felt if suddenly offered a 
place in the team. The knight's code of honour contained no promise 
of comfort but involved him in some risk of death. Of those who 
stood aside when he passed, many would have firmly refused to 
change places with him. 

Chivalry next implies an idea of equality as between adult and 
trained members of a particular order or society; a group as wide as 
Christendom with a sort of language of its own. it was and is a pecu- 
liar sort of equality, allowing of all the ranks of office like Constable 
and Marshal, allowing of all the grades of nobility from Duke, 
Marquis, Count and Baron down to plain Knight or Esquire, and 
yet ensuring, for certain purposes, that all are on one footing as 
gentlemen. The idea survives to this day in an Officers' Mess. It 
survived until recently in the duel, a custom which used to expose all 
gentlemen in an equal degree to a certain kind of risk. In Japan during 
its feudal period the Samurai — distinguished from other folk, as 
were European gentlemen, by the wearing of the sword — had some- 
thing of the same equality, but not merely in fighting. They also 
shared in common the obligation to commit suicide rather than 
suffer dishonour. As no similar obligation lay on humbler people, 
this is a parallel instance of an equality not of comfort but of danger. 

Chivalry implies, lastly, a kind of sportsmanship which makes it 
possible to reconcile conflict (nowadays verbal conflict, as for example 
in Parliament) with courtesy, and even friendship, between oppo- 
nents; a necessary aspect of political debate. The medieval knight 
going to the aid of a wounded opponent was not only perpetuating 
an old Arab custom but also furnishing the precedent according to 
which an officer to-day may salute a prisoner of war who is senior to 
him in rank. It is the tradition of a warfare confined by general 
consent to certain people, certain places and even to certain times of 
year. It was the better aspect of Feudalism that its tendency was to 
keep warfare within bounds. The removal of these restrictions has 
brought with it no very obvious advantage. 

Chivalry was one aspect of Feudalism: Monasticism was another. 
And indeed knighthood and monasticism have something in common 
and actually overlapped in the military orders. But the Orders of 
Knighthood were not as strict as the Rule of St. Benedict, which was 
contemporary with the work of Justinian, based upon civil and canon 
law, and upheld to this day as a monument of common sense; the 
common sense expressed in the feeling that men who live without 
women must not live without rules. The Rule of St. Benedict sets a 


Standard of monastic conduct, not too hard to be enforced nor 'too 
easy-going to be a means of perfection',^ and provided for the monk 
the same sort of training and test that knighthood did for the soldier. 
The Abbot or Prior, the Abbess or Prioress, the Monk or Nun had 
gained a certain place in the Feudal structure, a certain authority or 
privilege in the world, partly by birth and partly by education but at 
a price which was known to everybody. They were to be respected 
rather than envied. And the world was thus provided with a set of 
administrators, scholars and clerks who were unlikely to have per- 
sonal ambitions of a certain kind, whose integrity was in some 
measure established, and in whose relationship with each other there 
was an element of equality as between members of an exclusive 

Politically, the monastic heritage is extremely important. The Rule 
of St. Benedict and its later variants provided the models for a 
written constitution. The procedure in Chapter provided a model 
for the orderly conduct of business. The system of Visitation gave 
precedent for any regular system of inspection. And, finally, the 
sending of delegates to the annual Conferences or Chapters of the 
Order (more especially the Dominican) was a thirteenth century 
experiment in representative democracy.'^ There is something more 
than symbolism in the fact that the English Parliament meets and 
has always met in what used to be monastic precincts. It must, 
however, be remembered that the monks of Christendom professed 
an Oriental religion and had still earlier models of monasticism in 
the East; models older than Christianity itself. Although the Buddhist 
monastery had no higher organisation than the single (and often 
large) community, its internal organisation was highly developed 
pohtically as well as culturally. Control lay in a full meeting of the 
members, provided there was a quorum and provided that the 
decisions made were not opposed to Buddhist scripture.^ Something 
of this practice may well have passed from Buddhist to Christian 

Like monasteries, medieval cities also had their place in the feudal 
system; and these offered a governmental pattern of their own. The 
Ancient World had known both City States and Empires in which 
City States were included. The City State was both a City and the 
territory about it and such States were known in the Middle Ages, 
Venice, for example, being one. There were City States ruled by a 
Bishop, like Durham, the diocese and territory being one. But there 
were also, in the Middle Ages, many rulers who lived in their castles 
or moved round their estates, leaving cities to govern themselves. 

* Saint Benedict and the Sixth Century. Dom John Chapman. London, 1929. p. 203. 

* A History of Political Thcorv. G. H. Sabine. London, 1952. p. 268. 

' See Theory oj Government in Ancient India. B. Prasad. Allahabad, 1927. pp. 321-330. 


Many cities thus owed allegiance to a distant King or Emperor, but 
to no one else, and yet had no territory outside their quite limited 
boundaries. They were self-governing in a new way and gave a new 
meaning to the word 'citizen'. For the Athenian or Roman voter was 
originally a farmer, seen in the city only on market days. But the 
citizen of Paris, Augsburg or London was almost certainly a crafts- 
man or merchant and quite probably nothing else.^ Walled Cities 
were packed tight with people and were too small — as a result of 
economies in length of fortification — to develop much district feeling 
within the walls. Their corporate loyalty was strong but the citizens 
developed secondary loyalties to their Craft, Mystery or Guild. 
Within each Guild, membership was graded, with apprentices, 
journeymen, masters, aldermen and presiding Master. And the actual 
government of the City was apt to be entrusted, in practice, to the 
heads of Guilds in rotation. But these Guilds were not purely local. 
Membership of a Mystery in one City carried with it at least an 
honorary membership of the equivalent Mystery in the cities adjacent 
or most nearly connected by trade. Guild membership was a super- 
national organisation, in fact, very much like Monasticism or 

To complete the picture, there were the Universities. These offered 
the same sort of privileged position, to be gained by much the same 
laborious means. The scholar served the same sort of apprenticeship 
as the Squire or Draper. He spent five or six years in mastering his 
basic subjects — grammar, rhetoric and logic; arithmetic, geometry, 
music and astronomy — before graduating in Arts. Only then could he 
enter one of the higher Faculties of Theology, Law or Medicine. In 
Theology a further six years might be spent in becoming Bachelor of 
Divinity, and twelve or thirteen years altogether in achieving the 
Doctorate. Once earned, the doctorate gave the right to lecture at 
any university in Christendom, not merely at the University in which 
the degree was obtained. Similarly, a Doctor of the Civil Law had a 
high social status and was eligible for public office. Full membership 
of a higher Faculty carried its privileges, in fact, but they had to be 
earned before they could be enjoyed. In university life, again, there 
was a measure of equality. It was, however, equality among people 
similarly qualified who had gained a certain position by years of 
eff"ort. The typical medieval institutions are all thus characterised. In 
all there are the same elements: membership of an international 
society; apprenticeship; the passing of a test; an oath of loyalty; the 
recognition of a code of professional conduct; and the award of a 
definite place in a respected hierarchy. 

Although the merits of European Feudalism are worthy of note, 

' See Cambridge Medieval History. Vol. VI. pp. 473-503. 


they do not characterise feudalism wherever it appears. Elsewhere 
and in general, the merits of feudalism are less tangible. The obvious 
advantage of multiplying centres of semi-independent rule is that the 
arts flourish in proportion to the potential number of patrons. 
Whether we are to count the Buddhist temples in Japan, the palaces 
in Italy or the Court Orchestras in eighteenth century Germany, we 
are bound to recognise that the fragmentation of an Empire gives 
great scope to the artist. And Confucius learnt more at different 
courts than he would ever have learnt at one. As against that, 
feudalism brings endless if petty warfare which, harmless as it may be 
when compared with conflict on the national scale, creates a demand 
for the restoration of order. Monarchy is hailed with relief by those 
who have lived for long under a militant feudalism. 

If we seek for a literature intended to justify feudalism as against 
the arguments for a centralised efficiency, we shall find it less in 
political treatises than in ballads, legends, chronicles and songs. The 
praise of feudalism is implicit in the Song of Roland, the Japanese 
legend of the Forty Ronin, the Border Ballads and the Chronicles of 
Froissart. To reasonings about improved administration the Feud- 
alists reply most effectively by trumpet calls, fluttering banners, the 
names of heroes and a rousing chorus. These arguments are un- 
answerable. It would be wrong, however, to conclude that there were 
no arguments of a different kind. The Barons who drew up the 
clauses of Magna Carta had a point of view. That they expressed it in 
legal rather than philosophic terms is itself significant, for they 
clearly regarded their relationship to the king as one to be defined by 
law. In a later age, theorists were to speak of a social contract, real 
or implied, between ruler and people. The Barons at Runnymede, at 
once more powerful and more practical, drew up an actual contract 
and made the king seal it. As a modern historian has emphasised: 

The rule of law was the most clearly realized political principle of 
the feudal age, governing the conduct of lord and vassal alike. . . .^ 

It follows that the political theories of feudalism are mostly in 
legal form. Many, moreover, date from a period before any very 
articulate peerage had emerged. It was only at a later date, when 
national monarchies were already being established, that feudal 
theories were occasionally invoked by those opposed to royal 
absolutism. It is only in the sixteenth century and from rather isolated 
sources that we learn what the case for feudalism had been. It appears, 
for example, in a Defence oj Liberty against Tyrants- written in 1579, 

' Ttie Constitutional History of Medieval England. J. E. A. JoilifTe. London, 1937. 
p. 157. 

- A Defence of Liberty against Tyrants. Ed., with introduction, by H. J. Laski from 
the English edition of 1689. London, 1924. 


probably by Duplcssis-Mornay, adviser to Henry of Navarre. 
What does the case for fcudahsm amount to? It is based on the 
need to restrain royal power by law and contract. Nobles were of a 
privileged class, having gained their special rights by birth and 
training. Other classes — the bishops and clergy, abbots and monks, 
university doctors and masters, master-craftsmen and burgesses — also 
had special privileges which were secured by law and custom, parch- 
ment and seal. As these privileges had been earned and usually paid 
for, it was of the essence of the bargain that the law should be binding 
on the king as well as on the subject. The law was therefore of 
higher authority than the king; and the law had to be enforced. By 
whom? Not by any individual noble but by any large group of nobles 
who conceived that their 'liberties' had been infringed. And their 
liberties included the powers they enjoyed over other people — even 
royal powers as exercised, within their lordships, by the lords of the 
Welsh Marches. As against a royal tyranny, exceeding the bounds of 
law, the greater lords could oppose a military power greater than the 
king's. If primarily guarding their own interests, it could be shown 
that they were incidentally guarding the interests of others. They did 
so, moreover, by virtue of the very feudal obligations by which they 
were themselves bound. Vassalage was a contract binding on both 
parties and not merely on the vassal. And the king, besides, was 
vassal to God. 

Briefly, even as those rebellious vassals who endeavour to possess 
themselves of the kingdom, do commit felony by the testimony of all 
laws, and deserve to be extirpated . . . now for that we see that God 
invests kings into their kingdoms, almost in the same manner that 
vassals are invested into their fees by their sovereign, we must needs 
conclude that kings are the vassals of God, and deserve to be deprived 
of the benefit they receive from their lord if they commit felony ... if 
God hold the place of sovereign Lord, and the king as vassal, who dare 
deny but that we must rather obey the sovereign than the vassal?^ 

Here is a useful doctrine for a restive nobility. But the author goes 
further and remarks that the King of France makes his coronation 
oath before twelve peers who represent the people as a whole, 'which 
shows that these twelve peers are above the king'.'-^ This is not an 
argument that would have appealed, at first sight, to Louis XIV. But 
the author of A Defence of Liberty is on firm ground in preferring an 
actual coronation oath to an imaginary social contract. He goes on 
to explain that an oath of this kind is almost universal. 

For neither the emperor, the king of France, nor the kings of Spain, 
England, Polander, Hungary, and all the other lawful princes; as the 

' A Defence of Liberty, op. cit. p. 79. 
'/hid. p. 131. 


archdukes of Austria, dukes of Brabante, earls of Flanders, and 
Holland, nor other princes, are not admitted to the government of 
their estates, before they have promised to the electors, peers, palatines, 
lords, barons, and governors, that they will render to every one right 
according to the laws of the country, yea, so strictly that they cannot 
alter or innovate anything contrary to the privileges of the countries, 
without the consent of the towns and provinces; if they do it, they are 
no less guilty of rebellion against the laws than the people are in their 
kind, if they refuse obedience when they command according to law.^ 

The author later draws a sharp contrast between a lawful king and 
a mere tyrant. The former is distinguished by his willingness to share 
power with his relatives and peers. 

The tyrant advances above and in opposition to the ancient and 
worthy nobility, mean and unworthy persons; to the end that these 
base fellows, being absolutely his creatures, might applaud and apply 
themselves to the fulfilling of all his loose and unruly desires. The king 
maintains every man in his rank, honours and respects the grandees 
as the kingdom's friends, desiring their good as well as his own.- 

The advocate of Feudalism can thus show that a nobility is needed 
to keep the king in check and that only a tyrant will use any but his 
hereditary advisers. He could also have shown (had the point inter- 
ested him) that the noble who resists illegal demands — conveyed 
perhaps by 'mean and unworthy persons' — is the indirect means of 
saving others from oppression. Perhaps the most eloquent defence of 
feudalism ever uttered came from Edmund Burke as he saw its last 
remnants destroyed in France. He laments the plight of Marie 
Antoinette in a famous passage which concludes: — 

. . . little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters 
fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of 
honour, and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have 
leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her 
with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, econo- 
mists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is 
extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous 
loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedi- 
ence, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude 
itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the 
cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic 
enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that 
chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired 
courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it 
touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its 

'Ibid. p. 149. 

^ A Defence of Liberty, op. cit. p. 185. 

* Refleclions on the Revolution in France. Edmund Burke. Everyman, 1935. p. 73. 


That there was a case for Feudalism in its strict sense, and for the 
other institutions connected with it — chivalry, monasticism, cities 
and universities — is sufficiently clear. That there was a case against it 
is clearer still. For Feudalism, at its worst, could destroy the King- 
dom. It could do so especially through the rebellious lord seeking 
help from beyond the nearest frontier. It could do so in a different way 
if feudal lords tried to replace the king by a committee of themselves, 
lacking as they would any real trust in each other. It could do so, 
finally, in the event of a disputed succession with diff"erent parties 
supporting different candidates for the throne. Considered in isola- 
tion, feudalism was more dangerous than useful. It must, however, 
be remembered that European aristocracy, a more hopeful form of 
government, was rooted in feudal traditions. The aristocrats who 
sought and obtained control of the central government had still a 
measure of feudal interest in the provinces. More than that, they 
inherited from the feudal lord that determination to protect the rights 
of the individual as against the State. The individual was always 
essentially the feudal lord himself but the freedom he sought for his 
own family was extended gradually to other families as well. The 
defence of liberties merged imperceptibly into the struggle for 



ARISTOCRACY, the rule of the respected few, is normally the 
^ sequel to monarchy. It is easier for an aristocracy to establish 
its power within a state already formed, inside boundaries already 
defined and through institutions already in existence. Nor is it 
necessary for the monarchy to disappear. The Egyptian monarchy, 
the earliest of which the history is known, was largely overshadowed 
by the nobility during the fifth dynasty (2750-2250 B.C.) and still 
more during the sixth, but the monarchy, in form, remained. The 
same was roughly true of China under the Han Dynasty. At Sparta, 
a predominantly aristocratic state, the dual kingship survived and 
with a share of influence. At Athens the monarchy gave place quietly 
to aristocracy during the eighth century. At Rome, by contrast, the 
kings were dethroned, about 509 B.C., by the nobles, and the kingship 
lingered on only in the form of the Rex Sacrorum, a sacrificial oflRce 
of minor importance. Rome provides perhaps the best early example 
of aristocracy in its republican form. 

Rome is first known to us as a City State of an almost Greek 
pattern but with a marked geographical difference. Rome is placed 
neither in a mountain valley nor on an island. It is not even on the 
coast. ^ It lies halfway up the Italian peninsula, at the lowest point at 
which the Tiber could be bridged, and in the middle of a not very 
defensible plain. This plain, in turn, forms a part of a geographical 
area sharply defined by the Alps and the sea. The Romans had a 
strong motive to enlarge their territory to its natural limits and they 
quite soon controlled an area larger than, say, Attica. They were 
neither traders nor seamen- and so extended their territory not by 
colonisation but by adding one adjacent area to another. In 294 B.C. 
the male citizens of military age numbered 262,321. By 169 B.C. they 
numbered 312,885. By the middle of the third century there must have 
been a million people other than aliens and slaves. Politically, their 
problem resembled neither that of the Athenians nor that of the 
Hindoos. Rome was a monarchy when its territorial expansion began 

' Geographic Background of Greek and Roman History. M. Cary. Oxford, 1949. 
pp. 130-133. 

- See An Economic History of Rome. T. Frank. London, 1927. p. 118. 



but with a nobility comprising the leaders or elders of the original 
tribes of Latium. These were the Patricians, members of 'gentes' or 
known families, alone able at first to bear office. Beneath them, a 
wider class of Equites included those able to provide themselves with 
a horse for service in war. The respective words, the one suggesting 
fatherhood and the other the cavalryman's prestige, are significant. 
It was the Patricians who rid themselves of the Monarchy and divided 
the royal power between two officers, the Consuls, each elected for 
one year. 

The problem, for an aristocracy, is one of preventing (on the one 
hand) a revival of kingship and (on the other) a revolt of the people. 
The two Consuls represented a Patrician device to serve the former 
purpose. Each had civil, military and judicial powers, but the one 
was a check on the other and their period of office was short. The 
Republic lasted, in fact, for about 250 years, guarded by a complex 
but unwritten constitution, it would hardly have lasted so long if the 
Patricians had not yielded to the. pressure of wealthy men of Plebeian 
birth. They yielded to a growing pressure between 471 and 367 B.C., 
finally allowing one of the two Consuls to be a Plebeian. The poorer 
Plebs played a part in the struggle and gained some elective functions. 
The wealthier Plebs were virtually admitted to an aristocracy which 
they considerably strengthened. Rome acquired, as a result, a mixed 
constitution, predominantly aristocratic but with elements of 
democracy and monarchy. • 

This constitution was never planned as a whole, it embodied the 
political gains of various groups and so represented a balance of 
forces. Such a balance can be maintained in two ways; either by the 
continued pull of the same forces, each as weighty as at first, or else 
by a legal stabilisation of the positions gained, it was by law, written 
or unwritten, that the position was stabilised; and law, in Rome, 
became extremely important. The leading Romans were mostly to 
combine in themselves the character of lawyer and soldier — the two 
professions which most promote a sense of reality. Starting with a 
complex political structure, they hammered out something workable 
and did this without resorting to any theorist. Cato claimed, accord- 
ing to Cicero, that the Roman Republic was not framed by any one 
genius but by the work of generations. This was true and it was the 
cause of the multiplicity of public offices and assemblies which seems, 
in retrospect, so confusing. Besides the two Consuls were six Consular 
Tribunes, a number of Praetors (eventually, sixteen), two Censors, 
five (and ultimately ten) Tribunes, four Aediles, four (and finally 
forty) Quaestors, twenty-six police magistrates (the XXVI viri) and a 
number of Military Tribunes. All above the rank of Military 

' Roman Political Insliiutions. L . P. Homo. London, 1929. 


Tribune had a mixture of administrative, legal, financial and judicial 
duties. All without exception were elected for a limited term of office. 

Election is quite compatible with aristocracy provided that the 
same people, or the same sort of people, are always chosen. This was 
ensured in Rome by two devices; the 'cursus honorum' and the 
distribution of votes. The 'cursus honorum' was the accepted rule by 
which no one was eligible for election to a higher office until he had 
served in a lower. The man with political ambitions had to enter, at 
about the age of eighteen, a series of alternating military and civil 
offices which might lead him to election, finally, as Consul. The 
periods of office and periods of ineligibility were such as to prevent 
anyone becoming Consul before the age of 43. As a political career 
thus admitted of no other activity, and as the offices were mostly 
unpaid, the 'cursus honorum' was open only to those already wealthy 
at the age of eighteen and with an assured income for life. 

The distribution of votes was most carefully planned in the 
Comitia Centuriata, to which all Roman citizens belonged. This mass 
meeting voted by Centuries, the citizens being organised on military 
lines, and each century recorded one vote, that of its own majority. 
This might have been a democratic system had the Centuries each 
numbered one hundred voters. In fact, however, while each Eques- 
trian Century numbered one hundred (and there were eighteen of 
these) the other Centuries, graded on a property qualification, varied 
in strength from 142-200 in the Pedites of the First Class and 320 in 
Classes 2 to 5, down to 130,000 in the Proletarian Century. The 
Centuries numbered 193 in all, so that the Equites and the Pedites 
1st Class had by themselves, if they agreed, a bare majority of 98 
votes. If there was disagreement the twenty Centuries of the 2nd 
Class voted until 97 votes had been recorded. Then the voting stopped 
and the result was announced. The third, fourth, fifth and unclassified 
Centuries rarely had occasion to vote at all. Within each Century 
voting was secret, voters collecting in an enclosure and each recording 
his vote as he left by ballots marked U.R. (uti rogas) or A (antiquo), 
by writing the name of the candidate on a 'tabella', or (on cases of 
criminal appeal) by ballots marked L (libero) and D (damno). The 
functions of this important assembly included the declaring of war, 
the passing of legal enactments on the recommendation of Senate, 
and the election of Consuls, Censors and Praetors. 

More democratic was the Concilium Plebis, which comprised in 
theory 250,000 or 300,000 voters and met on market days. No con- 
siderable proportion of them could in fact be collected. Had it been 
possible, moreover, the difficulty would have been to explain to them 
the point at issue. Tribunes and Plebeian Aediles were elected by this 
Assembly, which may sometimes have tested the relative popularity 


of the candidates — or their popularity, at any rate, among a chance 
collection of the unemployed. In practice, however, those eligible to 
stand for election had to have served previously as Legatus Legionis 
(or some other army rank), as Quaestor before that, and previously 
as military Tribune and police magistrate. To these earlier offices 
they had been appointed without troubling the Concilium Plebis and, 
if of Patrician birth, they need not seek election there at all. The 
Concilium Plebis was essentially a safety valve by which popular 
discontent could, in the last resort, make itself felt.^ So far as election 
went, the voters merely had to chose between men of the same sort, all 
of rank and property, all with legal and military training, all members 
of a definite class with its own social customs and standards of con- 
duct. They could not have suddenly elected one of themselves and 
there is little evidence that they would have chosen to do so even if 
given the chance. 

We have seen that the institutions which were democratic in form 
were aristocratic in practice. But the whole structure centred upon an 
institution, the Senate, which was not democratic even in theory. 
This body, with important functions in foreign policy, finance and 
legislation, comprised at first 300 (later 600) members, all of whom 
held or (as in most cases) had previously held, high magisterial office. 
They were not elected but passed automatically into Senate on com- 
pletion of their period of office. Senate had thus about twenty new 
members each year, roughly replacing its losses by death. It was 
summoned and presided over by a Consul or, in his absence, by the 
Praetor Urbanus, who introduced the business to be discussed. 
Having done so, he asked the opinion of each Senator in turn until 
the sense of the house had become apparent. Each Senator could 
speak for as long as he liked — and not necessarily :;o the motion — 
and could even, by continuing until sunset, talk the motion out. The 
president brought the discussion to an end when he saw fit and put 
the matter — although this was rarely necessary — to the vote. Magis- 
trates in office did not vote. The rest moved to one side or other of the 
house. The motion carried might be vetoed as unconstitutional but 
would otherwise become a 'senatus consultum' with legal effect, 
recorded and announced. In legislative matters the 'senatus con- 
sultum' did not become a law (lex) until passed in turn by an 
assembly. There were no organised parties and little use was made of 
committees. No minutes were kept and the proceedings were com- 
paratively brief. The Roman of Republican days was a man of few 
words and the more senior seem, in practice, to have swayed the rest 
by their reputation more than by their eloquence.^ 

' See Roman Political Institutions. F. F. Abbott. Boston, 1911. Chapter X, pp. 220- 
243. See also Roman Public Life. A. H. J. Greenidge. London, 1930. 

» Roman Public Life. A. H. J. Greenidge. London, 1930. Chapter VI. pp. 261-272. 


Viewed as a structure or mechanism, the Roman constitution seems 
complex, confused and unworkable. It had, to all appearance, too 
many legislatures, too many independent officials, too many elections 
and too many rules. No distinction was ever made between legislative, 
executive and judicial functions, nor even between military and civil. 
It worked, nevertheless, to some purpose. Rome was governed, in 
effect, by a class of men of similar birth, similar training, similar 
experience and (one might add) similar limitations. They all under- 
stood each other very well and probably reached agreement privately 
before Senate even met. The magistrates could have nullified the 
powers of Senate. But why should they? They were magistrates only 
for a time and thereafter Senators for life. The Senators might have 
obstructed the work of those in office. But why should they? They 
had all been in office themselves. Senate might have become danger- 
ously divorced from the people at large. But it was not altogether 
closed to talent, nor entirely insensitive to upper middle-class 
opinion. The people, finally, might have found means to demand a 
share in government. But the Roman ruling class was a true aris- 
tocracy. Its members were respected for their courage and ability, 
not merely envied for their wealth. Of the aristocrats, every one had 
served in the field without disgrace, every one had a legal and adminis- 
trative training, every one had served as executive and judge. They 
affected, moreover, a Spartan simplicity in dress and manner, 
resting their influence merely on birth, reputation and known 
achievement They were able, between them, to conquer the known 

There have been other ruling aristocracies besides that of Rome. 
Nor are these confined to the West. The Chinese aristocracy, ruling at 
certain periods through Imperial machinery of government, was 
unlike the Roman in being more cultured and better educated, with 
a sharp distinction drawn between civil and military functions. The 
same would be true of the Japanese aristocrats of the Fujiwara period 
but with this difference that they also produced a class of educated 
women, whose diaries and novels were to form a valuable part of the 
literature of Japan. In a complete study of the subject, such as cannot 
be attempted here, a variety of evidence could be compiled. It may, 
however, be doubted whether any modern example of aristocracy can 
be as interesting or complete as that afforded by seventeenth-nine- 
teenth century England. It is all the more interesting in that the 
adjacent countries, showing the same tendencies, failed to achieve the 
same result. They failed, moreover, for reasons which throw con- 
siderable light on the nature of effective aristocratic rule. The 
Monarchy which rested on Divine Right in the sixteenth-seventeenth 
centuries weakened during the eighteenth century and tended. 


throughout Europe, to turn either into aristocracy or into Monarchy 
self-justified in terms of enhghtenment. But the success of the aristoc- 
racies in supplanting monarchy varied with the way in which the 
aristocracies were formed. In some important respects, the Enghsh 
aristocracy resembled no other. 

To realise the difference between the English and most other 
aristocracies we must observe, first of all, that the English language 
has no equivalent of the French 'de', the German 'von' or the Dutch 
'van'. English Barons and Baronets are 'of a named locality but not 
to the extinction of their original surname. And, as between surnames, 
there has never been a clear distinction between what is noble and what 
is not. We must next observe that the English law of primogeniture, 
in confining technical nobility to the eldest son, throws emphasis on 
an actual title, within the power of the Crown to bestow, and dis- 
regards the prestige of birth, which the younger sons must equally 
share. With these basic peculiarities, the English nobility was further 
modified in its membership by the salient events in English history. 
Most of the great medieval houses had become extinct, through battle 
and attainder, during the Wars of the Roses. The Dukedoms of 
Cornwall and Lancaster had been absorbed by the Royal House. A 
new nobility, recruited from the landed gentry and merchants, had 
grown up as a result of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. But this 
in turn was involved in the Civil Wars of the seventeenth century, 
many of the older families being ruined by fines and confiscations. By 
1660 most of the English estates had changed hands repeatedly. Of 
the surviving nobility hardly one could claim what the French would 
have described as ancestry. Families of the 'Ancienne chevalerie' in 
France claimed to have been noble since 1360. More than that, 
however, they needed to establish (before obtaining a commission in 
the army) their noble descent on both sides. They had to show 
sixteen quarterings in their coat-of-arms. It is to be doubted whether 
any English family could have shown that — let alone the thirty-two 
quarterings which were boasted in some fantastic and crumbling 
chateaux. Queen Elizabeth could not have done so, one of her an- 
cestors having been Lord Mayor of London. As for the noble houses, 
they had been constantly marrying, to their advantage, into the families 
of lawyers, wine-merchants, shipowners and adventurers. Nor were 
their younger sons averse to trade. As Voltaire pointed out, at the 
time when Sir Robert Walpole governed Great Britain, his 
younger brother was no more than a Factor at Aleppo. It was this 
absence of caste which facilitated the concentration of political, 
military, religious and financial powers among the same people. The 
English aristocracy of the eighteenth century was, in fact, a body of 
very mixed origin, constantly recruited from below, with highly 


developed instincts in law and business. By French standards, noble 
birth in England simply did not exist. 

The aristocrat, in the English sense, first appears in the reign of 
Elizabeth. He was a man of respectable family, who at least knew 
who his grandfather was. He was a landowner of considerable wealth 
and made up in education for what he lacked in ancestry. He was 
something of a scholar and often a musician or poet. He was an 
athlete, a horseman and soldier and sometimes a seaman as well. 
By the early seventeenth century his training had been standardised. 
From the village school or a private tutor, he went to the grammar or 
public school. Then he entered the University and completed his 
groundwork in Latin, Mathematics, Divinity and perhaps Greek, 
Leaving Oxford or Cambridge, very probably without graduating, 
he next attended the Inns of Court and obtained at least a smattering 
of law. Then he set off on the Grand Tour to France, Germany and 
Italy, spending a year or more in learning French and Italian. There 
followed a campaign or two in the Low Countries. After that he was 
fit for duty as Justice of the Peace, fit to appear at Court and fit 
before long to take a seat in Parliament. How developed even before 
then were the traditions of Parliament may be learnt from a treatise 
of 1562-6, published in 1583. 

... In the disputing is a mervelous good order used in the lower house. 
He that standeth uppe bareheaded is understanded that he will speake 
to the bill. If more stande up, who that first is judged to arise, is first 
harde, though the one doe prayse the law, the other diswade it, yet 
there is no altercation. For everie man speaketh as to the speaker, not 
as one to an other, for that is against the order of the house. It is also 
taken against the order to name him whom ye doe confute, but by 
circumlocution, as he that speaketh with the bill, or he that spake 
against the bill and gave this and this reason. And so with perpetual! 
Oration not with altercation, he goeth through till he do make an end. 
He that once hath spoken on a bill though he be confuted straight, 
that day may not replie, no though he would channge his opinion. So 
that to one bill in one day one may not in that house speake twise, for 
else one or two with altercation woulde spende all the time.^ 

Such rules of debate as these were the work of gentlemen, lawyers, 
merchants and soldiers; men of great experience. There was little of 
democracy about it but there was evidence of a close alliance between 
aristocracy and middle class. It provided a good school of statesman- 
ship even when the House of Lords was more important. By the late 
seventeenth century moreover the English aristocrat rarely made a 
mistake over architecture, gardens, portraits, trees, horses or dogs. 
He was rightly trained for his main political task, which was to 

' De Republica Angloniin: A Discourse on the Commonwealth of England. By Sir 
Thomas Smith. Ed. by L. Alston, p. 34. 


establish aristocratic government under the guise of monarchy. 

The fall of James II and the crowning of William and Mary brought 
in a weakened monarchy, dependent on the party which had brought 
about the revolution of 1688 ; a party which might turn at any time to 
intrigue with the fallen king. What is remarkable is the speed and 
certainty with which the English aristocrats set up a government of 
their own, retaining a diminished kingship but effectively concen- 
trating the power in their own hands. By the middle of the eighteenth 
century the Government, the Parliament, the Church, the Army and 
the Universities were all so many different aspects of aristocracy. And 
all Europe watched to see what the result would be in terms of 
strength or weakness. The answer came in the Seven Years War of 
1756-63 and the total defeat of France. Henceforth the upholders of 
monarchy could say, if they wished, that an aristocratic form of rule 
was impious, unprecedented and wrong. But they could not regard it 
as unworkable, and they could not deny its success. 

To what was this success due? It was due, no doubt, in part, to 
causes unconnected with the form of government as established. But, 
such causes apart, aristocracy revealed a certain strength of its own. 
It combined scope for individual enterprise with a certain consistency 
in public effort. Sea power, trade and colonisation formed an intricate 
pattern in which war was used to capture trade and trade increased to 
pay for war. Only an aristocracy of that peculiar kind could have 
achieved its purpose in that peculiar way. It was the close connection 
between statesmen, admirals, shipowners, planters, underwriters, 
gentry, soldiers and bankers that made success possible. More than 
that, the structure of society provided initiative where it was wanted 
(on the fringes of a growing empire) and consistency where that was 
wanted (at the centre). The policies of kings proved, for the purposes 
of naval war, at once too interfering and too variable. Where so much 
depends upon a single man, policy may waver when he falls sick or 
grows old. Policy may be reversed when he dies. But the solid 
commercial interests of a governing class are fairly permanent in 
their nature. Behind the brilliance or eccentricity of the individual 
lurks the abiding purpose of a class. 

Aristocracy justified in Theory 

THE essence of aristocracy lies in the respect accorded to the 
aristocrat by others; a respect to be enhanced more by deeds 
than words. Respect, moreover, is rarely accorded to those who 
demand it. In a well established and etTectivc aristocracy the member 
of the ruling class assumes, but does not explain, his superiority. 
Should he be compelled to justify his power, it will be proof that his 
position is crumbling. The order obeyed without question comes 
normally from someone to whom the possibility of disobedience does 
not even occur. It is natural, therefore, that books written avowedly 
to justify aristocracy arc rare. And aristocracy is apt to masquerade 
as something else; as monarchy sometimes or even as democracy. 
The true aristocrat is respected for his virtues; and modesty is one 
of them. 

The only superiority a man can claim without some loss of dignity 
is that of descent. For one thing, the claim can be silent; the display 
of a name, a title, a coat-of-arms. For another, the superiority claimed 
is not one of personal merit but of ancestry. It is permissible to claim 
for an ancestor what one cannot claim for oneself. As against this, the 
most effective aristocracy is one in which noble birth plays only a 
minor part. In such an aristocracy, continually recruited from below 
and always sensitive to the opinion of the people (or, anyway, the 
people who matter), to boast of ancestry may give actual offence to 
others. Among the ruling class of eighteenth-nineteenth century 
England there were men without birth, fortune or even any very 
obvious ability; people who were 'in society' through being thought 
amusing, good-looking, well-dressed or somehow useful. It was and 
had always been impossible to say who exactly the aristocrats were, or 
why. So that English defenders of aristocracy appeared, in general, to 
be defending something else; usually, the constitution. The theorists 
of Republican Rome had no easier task and our earliest justifications 
of aristocracy are no more candid about it than are the most recent. 

The Romans were not themselves given to theorising about politics 
and they left it to a Greek, Polybius, to explain their institutions to 
posterity. He had at least the merit of knowing his subject, being held 
in Italy as a hostage of the Achaean League for sixteen years, from 
167 to 151 ».(". His main intention was to write a history of the 



Republic and it was only incidentally that he paused to study the 
principles of Roman government.^ He follows Aristotle in assuming 
a sequence in the forms of rule, postulating a periodic return to 
barbarism as the result of pestilence, famine and flood. He suggests 
that the sequence in the forms of rule can be arrested only by com- 
bining them in a constitution wherein the subversive tendencies of 
each are counteracted by the rest. He finds such a system in that 
planned for Sparta by Lycurgus and thinks that the Romans have 
reached the same goal by a less theoretical route. He explains how the 
Consul is held in check by the Senate and the Senate in turn by the 
Assemblies, the members of which will come, as soldiers, under the 
absolute power of the Consul. Cicero (who should have known better) 
follows this theory in his Republic and concludes, in effect, that every- 
thing has been so wisely arranged by the Romans' ancestors that there 
is little or no reason to alter anything. At the time he wrote it was in 
fact altering itself fairly rapidly and heading, indeed, for a state of 
anarchy which could end only in dictatorship. What he describes is, 
in eflfect, the Republic he would have liked to preserve. And he 
regards it, as Polybius did, as a balanced regime, not as an example of 
aristocracy in decline. That it was a declining aristocracy is apparent, 
nevertheless, from all that followed. 

From the time of the Roman Republic down to the end of the 
seventeenth century a.d. there are few examples of aristocracy in 
Europe, and such as there are seem to be limited in scale. Venice was 
ruled by an aristocracy of merchants but so, in a sense, were many 
other medieval towns. The Venetian example, interesting as it is, 
rises hardly above the level (in scale) of the City State. Where, how- 
ever, as in the Netherlands, a federation of City States comes into 
existence, the opportunity occurs for aristocracy on a rather larger 
scale. The opportunity was there but the Dutch inclined rather more 
towards democracy and served, with England, to discredit that form 
of rule. One of the greatest of Dutchmen, Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), 
who first defined the word 'State' for the purposes of International 
Law,^ gave his decided preference for Monarchy. It remained for 
England to demonstrate the merits of aristocratic rule, doing so in 
conscious imitation of Rome. The seventeenth century had witnessed 
a struggle in England between monarchy and aristocracy; a struggle 
only possible because the aristocrats disagreed with each other about 
religion. The momentary result was an experiment in democracy 

' A History of Political Theories, Ancient and Medieval. W. A. Dunning. New York, 
1927. pp. 113-114. 

^ A community of Western and Christian civilisation, with an organised government 
capable of making and observing treaties, with a fixed territory within which its 
sovereignty is complete, and a stability which seems likely to offer permanence. See 
Western Political Thought. An Historical Introduction from the Origins to Rousseau. 
John Bowie. London 1947. Chapters IV and VII. 


which ended promptly in military dictatorship. This brief experience 
convinced the English that monarchy was preferable to either and the 
restoration of Charles II in 1660 might have, just conceivably, re- 
sulted in a monarchy of the fashion set by France. But the astute 
Charles II was succeeded by a Roman Catholic. This sufficed to unite 
the two religious parties for just long enough to dethrone James II 
and instal William of Orange in his place. From 1688 the belief of 
the English aristocracy was that monarchy was necessary, as had 
already been proved, but that the real power must be vested in them- 
selves. To explain what they had done, and what they intended, they 
needed their own political prophet. In John Locke they found him. 
John Locke (1632-1704) was a scholar patronised by the Earl of 
Shaftesbury who came to England, from exile, in 1689, and published 
his two Treatises of Government in 1690. His first object was to 
demolish the Putriarcha of Sir Robert Filmer, in vogue since 1680; 
his second, to justify the Revolution of 1688 by proving that 
sovereignty lies in the community, not in the king. It is needless 
to follow Locke all the way in his refutation of Filmer, for the dis- 
cussion is one which must seem to us rather futile. Filmer had rightly 
insisted that paternity is, in some sense, the origin of political power. 
But his attempt to show that the Stuart kings had their sovereignty by 
a right of descent or right of conveyance going back to Adam is not 
particularly helpful. Locke writes eleven chapters to show that this 
claim is baseless and finally summarises his argument in a more 
compact form, as follows: — ^ 

Firstly. That Adam had not, either by natural right of fatherhood or by 

positive donation from God, any such authority over his children, nor 

dominion over the world, as is pretended. 

Secondly. That if he had, his heirs yet had no right to it. 

Thirdly. That if his heirs had . . . the right of succession . . . could not 

have been certainly determined. 

Fourthly. That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge of 

which is the eldest line . . . [is] . . . utterly lost. 

With this reasoning we may agree, turning however with some 
relief to his more constructive work in Book II. Locke begins his own 
theory of government by firmly stating that men are born equal when 
in a state of nature. 

This equality of men by Nature, the judicious Hooker looks upon 
as so evident in itself and beyond all question, that he makes it the 
foundation of that obligation to mutual love amongst men on which 
he builds the duties they owe one another and from whence he derives 
the great maxims of justice and charity." 

^ Of Civil Government. John Locke. Everyman edition. London, 1943. p. 117. 
^Ibid. p. 119. 


Actually, Hooker is not quite as definite as that. He merely asserts 

Every independent multitude, before any certain form of regiment 
established, hath, under God's supreme authority, full dominion over 
itself, even as a man not tied with the bond of subjection as yet unto 
any other, hath over himself the like power.^ 

Locke nevertheless assumes agreement and goes on to maintain 
that men are also born free except in that the Law of Nature enjoins 
each 'that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm 
another in his life, health, liberty or possessions'. The duty of en- 
forcing this law is vested in all alike. The right of property derives 
from the value of work put into it. Children are born in a subordina- 
tion to parents but outgrow it and thereafter need merely honour 
their parents. He admits that parental authority tends, in practice, to 
linger. 'Thus the natural fathers of families, by an insensible change, 
became the politic monarchs of them too' and sometimes left able and 
worthy heirs. But this, he insists, does not create Civil Government, 
the characteristic of which is law and its impartial enforcement. 
Political Society derives not from fatherhood but from agreement. 

Men being, as has been said, by nature all free, equal and independ- 
ent, no one can be put out of this estate and subjected to the political 
power of another without his own consent, which is done by agreeing 
with other men, to join and unite into a community for their comfort- 
able, safe, and peaceable living, one amongst another, in a secure 
enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that 
are not of it. . . . When any number of men have so consented to make 
one community or government, they are thereby presently incorpora- 
ted, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to 
act and conclude the rest. 

Locke here postulates a society formed before the nature of its 
government has been agreed. He meets the objection that no account 
exists of men so forming a political society by explaining that 
'Government is everywhere antecedent to records ... [so that] ... it is 
with commonwealths as with particular persons, they are commonly 
ignorant of their own births and infancies. . . .' He goes on, however, 

I will not deny that if we look back as far as history will direct us, 
towards the original of commonwealths, we shall generally find them 
under the government and administration of one man.^ 

He even admits that in small family societies, 'government com- 
monly began in the father'. But when different families came to live 
together, and when a father died 'it is not to be doubted, but they 

' The Political Ideas of Richuid Hooker. E. T. Davics. London, 1946. p. 65. Hooker 
asserts the 'Contract' theory as did, later. Bishop Hoadly. 
- Locke, op. lit. p. 168. 


used their natural freedom to set up him whom they judged the 
ablest. . . .' 

Conceding that the earliest governments of which we have record 
were monarchical, he asks why people 'generally pitched upon this 
form'. He refers to the example of paternal rule, to men's initial 
inexperience of tyranny and to the need for leadership in war, and 
concludes that men would naturally 'choose the wisest and bravest 
man to conduct them in their wars . . . and in this chiefly be their 
ruler'. He points out, however, that forms of government vary. The 
important thing is that men voluntarily enter it by agreement. They 
do this in order to preserve their property, obtain an impartial judge 
and ensure that his judgments are enforced. In thus forming a 
society they give up to it their original equality, liberty and executive 
power. But the power of the society must be for the common good 
and must achieve the three basic purposes for which it was formed, 
and thus ensure 'the peace, safety and public good of the people'. 
This can be done through democracy, oligarchy or monarchy, or any 
compromise between them.^ But, whatever the form of government, 
the supreme power must be the legislative. 

The legislative power, though supreme, is not limitless. It can be no 
greater than the power originally entrusted to it by individuals. And 
they cannot give to it what they do not possess. As no one has the 
right to destroy or enslave either himself or anyone else, that right 
cannot have been transferred to the legislative. That body, therefore, 
'can never have a right to destroy, enslave or designedly to impoverish 
the subjects'. By similar reasoning, the fact that no man can be judge 
in his own cause prevents the individual from conferring any such 
rights on the legislative. The judicial power must be separate. Govern- 
ment must be by declared laws, enforced by authorised judges. 

These are the bounds which the trust that is put in them by the 
society and the law of God and Nature have set to the legislative 
power of every Commonwealth, in all forms of government. First: 
They are to govern by promulgated established laws, not to be varied 
in particular cases, but to have one rule for rich and poor, for the 
favourite at Court and the countryman at plough. Secondly : These laws 
also ought to be designed for no other end ultimately but the good of the 
people. Thirdly: They must not raise taxes on the property of the 
people without the consent of the people given by themselves or their 
deputies. And this properly concerns only such governments where the 
legislative is always in being, or at least where the people have not 
reserved any part of the legislative to deputies, to be from time to time 
chosen by themselves. Fourthly : Legislative neither must nor can trans- 
fer the power of making laws to anybody else or place it anywhere 
but where the people have.' 

' Locke, op. cit. p. 189. 

' Locke, op. cit. pp. 182-183. 


Locke argues that the supreme power cannot take any man's 
property without his consent. 

. . . For the preservation of property being the end of government, and 
that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and re- 
quires that the people should have property, without which they must 
be supposed to lose that by entering into society which was the end 
for which they entered into it; too gross an absurdity for any man 
to own. 

True, there must be taxation but only by the consent of the 
majority, given by themselves or by their representatives. 

Locke maintains that there must be, in addition to the legislative 
body, 'a power always in being which should see to the execution of 
the laws' and a power to deal with 'war and peace, leagues and 
alliances'. These two powers must, in practice, be the same and with 
the additional duty, most likely, of convening the legislative body. 
But the legislative, which Locke conceives as only periodically in 
session, remains superior to the executive power, normally entrusted 
to a single man. 

Where the legislative and executive power are in distinct hands, as 
they are in all moderated monarchies and well-framed governments, 
there the good of the society requires that several things should be left 
to the discretion of him that has the executive power.^ 

He considers that the ruler must have a certain discretion, if only 
to prevent injustice by a too strict observance of the law. This is 
prerogative, an equity which may come in time to be embodied in the 
law, such being no encroachment on prerogative. 

Those who say otherwise speak as if the prince had a distinct and 
separate interest from the good of the community, and was not made 
for it; the root and source from which spring almost all those evils 
and disorders which happen in kingly governments. 

But Locke is careful to explain that the prerogative of a king should 
be something far short of despotism, which is no less than 

... an absolute arbitrary power one man has over another, to take 
away his life whenever he pleases; and this is a power which neither 
Nature gives, for it has made no such distinction between one man and 
another, nor compact can convey. For man, not having such an 
arbitrary power over his own life, cannot give another man power over 
it, but it is the effect only of forfeiture which the aggressor makes of his 
own life when he puts himself into the state of war with another. . . . 
And thus captives, taken in a just and lawful war, and such only, are 
subject to a despotical power.^ 

■ Ibid. p. 199. 

^ Locke, op. cit. p. 205. 


Locke quotes James I as stating that he was bound by 'the funda- 
mental laws of his kingdom', both tacitly and by coronation oath, 
and but for that would be a mere tyrant. He explains, however, that it 
is not only monarchies that may be tyrannical. 'Wherever law ends, 
tyranny begins'. And the resistance to an unlawful tyranny may lead 
to the dissolution of government. 

This last subject is discussed in Chapter XIX.* Governments are 
overturned, he explains, in two ways; by foreign conquest, or by in- 
ternal dissension. Foreign conquest destroys society itself and needs 
no further comment. Internal dissension may cause the legislative to 
break up or dissolve, as for instance when the prince 'sets up his own 
arbitrary will in place of the laws' or 'hinders the legislative from 
assembling ... or from acting freely'. The prince can produce the 
same result by tampering with the electoral system, by betraying the 
State to a foreign power, or (finally) by so neglecting and abandoning 
his office that the laws are no longer enforced. The government can 
be as readily overturned through the legislative or the prince making 
themselves 'masters or arbitrary disposers of the lives, liberties or 
fortunes of the people'. For as the reason 'why men enter into society 
is the preservation of their property', a failure to preserve it destroys 
government and justifies revolt. Even the legislative can become 

The end of government is the good of mankind; and which is best 
for mankind, that the people should be always exposed to the bound- 
less will of tyranny, or that the rulers should be sometimes liable to be 
opposed when they grow exorbitant in the use of their power, and 
employ it for the destruction, and not the preservation, of the proper- 
ties of their people?" 

Locke's general argument, of which the above is more or less the 
conclusion, can be summarised thus: — Men are born equal, with 
equal rights under the Law of Nature. They agree with each other to 
form a society, mainly to preserve property and secure justice. 
Justice can derive only from law; so the supreme power in society 
must be the legislative. But even the legislative is limited in power by 
the original agreement; nor may it encroach on the powers of the 
judiciary. There must also be an executive, probably a single ruler, 
but he too must be restrained by law. Finally, when the legislative is 
overturned, the society is dissolved and men are free to rebel and 
start afresh with another mutual agreement. 

As an argument this may not seem particularly impressive. The 
basic assumptions are far less convincing than those of Sir Robert 

' Locke, op. cit. p. 224. 
• Locke, op. cit. p. 233. 


Filmer, and the theory of the formation of society by agreement is 
quite unhistorical. If the agreement does not exist, the proper 
limitations in the power of legislative and executive are not estab- 
lished; and the right of rebellion remains as doubtful as ever. The 
argument need convince no one. But Locke's treatises are significant 
in that they embody four vital political ideas, arising not from aca- 
demic theories but from the political experience of his generation. 
These reiterated ideas are Property, Law, the Separation of Legis- 
lative, Executive and Judicial powers, and the Limits set to the powers 
of government as such. These have proved potent ideas, especially in 
America. But it might not seem, at first sight, that Locke had pro- 
duced exactly the arguments needed to support an aristocracy in 
power following the Revolution of 1688. This talk of original equality 
might not be greeted with any deafening applause in the House of 
Lords. But all that was merely theoretical stuff which few politicians 
would bother to read. His essential, positive doctrines — property, law, 
the separation of powers and the limits set to government — all add 
up to one thing, and that is Freedom; or the freedom, anyway, of the 
property owner. And while the Peers of 1688 intended to keep power 
for themselves (as against the king), the gentry at large cared more 
for freedom than for a share in government. Locke says nothing 
directly to justify aristocracy. How could he? In England aristocracy 
could never be justified for it could not even be defined. It did not 
mean birth; it never meant title; it did not always mean wealth; it 
seldom meant even dress, fashion or accent, and rarely could be 
equated with education. Its most stable feature was personal freedom 
and property in land, to be defended by law against the interference 
of government. And this defence of property and freedom rested with 
a legislature representative of property and a judiciary which govern- 
ment could not control. 

The English aristocracy, like their feudal predecessors at Runny- 
mede, involuntarily secured for others what they were intent only to 
gain for themselves. To have secured freedom for the peerage would, 
in England, have left all their younger brothers in bondage. To have 
limited privileges to men with a coat-of-arms dating from before 1500 
would have excluded half the people who were obviously important. 
To have confined privileges to men with a coat of arms dating from 
before 1360 would have excluded practically everyone. Explanations 
of what constituted an 'esquire' or 'gentleman' were never more than 
partly successful, including as they did a fair number of those it was 
intended to keep out and excluding a few of those who had obviously 
to come in. As no exact definition was possible, as in France, of the 
word 'gentleman', the freedom of the aristocrat came to be conferred 
inadvertently on the merchant and farmer. 


As regards immediate effect, we must remember that Locke wrote 
to justify an event which had taken place. His reasoning all leads up 
to a description of the constitution of 1688 and a defence of the 
changes which had brought it into being. His work was not at first 
accepted with much enthusiasm by the Whigs (perhaps because he 
proved too much) and it was naturally resented by the Tories as 
directly contradicting their doctrine of Divine Right. ^ Locke was 
rewarded by two offers of an embassy (which he refused) and by the 
offer of a minor government post (which he accepted) in 1696. It was 
not until after his death in 1704 that his doctrines began to gain 
influence and he had a definite vogue throughout the eighteenth 

The two political treatises were not Locke's only works and we 
must note at least one other, An Essay concerning Toleration (written 
in 1667). In this he asserts that the ruler's functions are confined to 
'securing the civil peace and property of his subjects'. He divides 
religious beliefs into three categories: those 'purely speculative' such 
as 'the belief of the Trinity, purgatory, transubstantiation, antipodes'; 
those which affect conduct 'in matters of indifferency' such as 
marriage, divorce, polygamy, wills, holidays, food and abstinence; 
and lastly, those 'moral virtues and vices' which 'concern society and 
are also good or bad in their own nature'. As regards the first, Locke 
holds that there should be complete freedom. As regards the second, 
the government may command or forbid actions which affect 'the 
peace, safety and security' of the people. As for the third, Locke 
firmly asserts that 'the law-maker hath nothing to do with moral 
virtues and vices . . . any otherwise than barely as they are subservient 
to the good and preservation of mankind under government'. Locke 
expressed these views again in his Letter concerning Toleration (1689), 
by which year the principle of toleration had, in England, been more 
or less agreed. Locke had incidentally had some part in drawing up 
the Constitution of the American State of Carolina in 1669, in which 
the freedom of the colonists to worship as they chose was expressly 
laid down. This was the beginning of the not inconsiderable influence 
his ideas were to have in America. His doctrine of the separation of 
powers is embodied even in the United States constitution. As 
against that, it might well be argued that Locke's plea for toleration, 
and the limits he sets to the functions of the State (both being aspects 
of freedom) are his most valuable, if not wholly original, contributions 
to political thought. It would be untrue to assert that Locke's dream 
of a 'secular' State (without moral purpose) was the reality of 
eighteenth century England. But it came more nearly true than it 
did anywhere else or indeed than it has in England since. As for his 

'John Locke s Political Philosophy. J. W. Gough. Oxford, 1950. pp. 120-1,35. 


main principle of freedom, that was stoutly maintained and was still 
being upheld when the century drew to its close. 

It was indeed towards the end of the eighteenth century that the 
whole spirit of the English system was summarised by Edmund Burke 
(1730-1797). Burke was a pupil, in some measure, of Montesquieu, 
having, like everyone else, read and admired his book Esprit des 
Lois (1748). This work was based in part on a study of English 
institutions and in part on a reading of Locke. He naturally recom- 
mended a constitutional monarchy. His approach was, nevertheless, 
for the period, extremely scientific, revealing some idea of ethnology 
and criminology. His book ran through some twenty-two editions in 
eighteen months and had influence on Catherine II, Frederick the 
Great and Louis XVI. Burke was among his readers but learnt still 
more from Montesquieu's own source of inspiration, English 
institutions as they actually existed. Burke lays down as his first 
principle that Society is not a machine but an organism — like a tree 
or an animal. His second principle is Prudence — deliberation, 
sobriety and moderation. His third principle is the necessity for the 
long view, backward and forward. He utterly rejects the idea of 
majority rule and the will of the people. He argues that our fore- 
fathers and descendants, who can have no vote, are also involved and 
that a present majority has no right to undo the work of those who 
are dead or blight the future of those still to be born. Society is a 
family, not a collection of individuals, and the family includes old and 
young, ancestors and descendants. His fourth principle is that the 
wisdom of our ancestors is not lightly to be set aside, and for this 
reason; that their institutions, unlike those proposed by innovators, 
are known to be workable. His fifth principle is liberty, but only as 
connected with honesty, justice and wisdom. His sixth principle is 
Balance. Government, he insists, should display a just balance be- 
tween Monarchy, Aristocracy, the Church and the Commons. 
Monarchy should be given power but held in check by Aristocracy as 
representing stability and permanence. The Commons should rep- 
resent a minority of the people, those of adult age, fair education and 
suflScient leisure. But the representatives are never merely to reflect 
the views of the electorate. Once elected, they should be guided by 
their own wisdom and experience. 

Burke was, in all this, no theorist. He describes and actively defends 
the institutions he knew and respected and the principles generally 
approved among his colleagues and friends. He follows Polybius in 
praising a constitution in which monarchy, aristocracy and democ- 
racy are blended. He follows Cicero in regarding as so blended a 
constitution in which aristocracy in fact predominated, and which he 
wanted to preserve. He does not, however, praise aristocracy as such. 


He commends rather the principles upon which it is based and the 
chief merit for which an aristocratic rule is distinguished. The 
principles he values are those of moderation, proportion, foresight 
and respect for the past. The merit he finds in an aristocracy is 



THE Empires of the Ancient World were normally ruled by a king 
who was also a god. Given a priesthood to support his divinity, 
we have thus an element of theocracy in the oldest kingdoms. But 
theocracy, rule by a priest or priests, is only one form of monarchy 
or aristocracy and not, in itself, of great political importance. It 
would hardly be possible to distinguish between the religious and 
political functions of the ancient monarchies; and in the instances 
(as among the Jews) where the priests had taken the place of the kings, 
then political and religious powers were at least co-extensive. The 
people were all of the one religion and they showed no particular 
desire to extend its benefits to anyone else. The political interest of 
an actively religious rule begins at the point when it is applied to 
people who are not of the same religion. Nor is such a rule applied to 
others except in the name of a missionary religion; a religion which 
enjoins the believer to make converts among the heathen. Although, 
therefore, the earliest monarchies were, in some measure, theocratic, 
the political interest of theocracy must centre mainly on the mission- 
ary and the persecuting religions. And of these the first was Buddhism. 
Contemporary with the Jewish prophet Isaiah, contemporary with 
Heraclitus, contemporary with Confucius, lived in India Gautama, 
known to history as the Buddha. He was a prince who lived round 
about 500 B.C., not far from Benares. At the age of twenty-nine he 
began to study under Brahman teachers. Having reached a state of 
enlightenment (Buddha means the Enlightened) he preached at 
Benares, as did the other mendicant monks, his followers. His 
doctrine was based on the 'four noble truths'; that life is pain; that 
the pain is due to a craving for life; that the solution is to discipline 
that craving; and that the secret of that discipline is to escape from 
the wheel of life. The way of deliverance includes avoiding the three 
vices; ignorance, lust and hatred. Most of this was perfectly con- 
sistent with Brahman doctrines. He differed mainly from the 
Brahmans, perhaps, in failing to accept their ideas of caste. He was 
original, moreover, in giving up fasting and penance and in denying, 
in effect, the existence of a personal god or an individual existence 
after death. His Nirvana or ultimate good was a cessation, merely, of 
life and pain. Doctrines such as these were too subtle and meta- 



physical even for his own disciples. They were resisted by the Brah- 
mans and appealed only to a few. 

After Gautama's death (c. 482-472 B.C.) his followers created a 
new religion round his reputation and memory. By 300 B.C. they were 
wrangling about doctrine and by that time Buddha (the unbeliever) 
had become a god. This new religion made no great progress in 
India but, absorbing certain Indian ideas, became a doctrine of 
deliverance with Buddha himself in the role of Messiah. In this form 
it was spread by active missionaries (not by force) in Burma, Siam, 
Malaya, China and Japan. It absorbed many local gods and legends, 
becoming, for the simpler devotees, a religion of magic and wonder; 
remaining, for others, an austere philosophy. In India Buddhism 
reached its peak under the Emperor Asoka, who temporarily con- 
verted Ceylon to that faith in 251 B.C. It now forms two main 
branches; the one in Ceylon, Burma and Siam; the other in China, 
Japan, Java, Sumatra and Tibet. Buddhism brought with it every- 
where its own kind of learning and philosophy, its own humanitari- 
anism and ethics, its own ritual and art. More than that, the Buddhist 
priests were educated men whose knowledge extended to medicine, 
textiles, architecture, bell-founding, engraving and sculpture. 
Buddhist temples were and are places of great beauty. Buddhist 
monasteries were and are centres of learning, charity and refuge. 
Buddhism was once almost established as a form of rule in 

In only one country has a Buddhist government been set up as a 
theocracy, and that is Tibet; a country in which ritual and prayer 
occupy the energies of quite half its three million inhabitants. Rule 
centres on the Dalai Lama, reincarnation of his predecessors and 
Vice-Regent for the Buddha. He is assisted by a Council of Ministers 
and a Parliament, and all the nobles are made (or were made) to 
accept public office. Real power rests, however, in the 400,000 monks 
who are or were collected in 5,000 monasteries; and more especially 
in the four largest, all near Lhasa. Celibacy on this, scale is hardly 
compatible, one would think, with racial survival. As a form of 
government, nevertheless. Buddhism can claim (as can the Papacy) 
the merit of having proved exceptionally stable. 

Although Buddhism is an example, and perhaps the first example, 
of a missionary religion, it has not been generally associated with 
religious persecution. To this rule, however, there is one big excep- 
tion. When the Emperor Asoka, third of the Mauryan dynasty, 
succeeded to the throne in about 268 B.C., he proclaimed himself a 
Buddhist and Buddhism the state religion. More than that, he used 
the machinery of government to disseminate its teachings. For 
practical purposes, these teachings, in so far as they affected the 


subject, were summarised in what is called the Second Minor Rock 
Edict, which reads as follows: — 
Thus saith His Majesty: 

Father and mother must be obeyed; similarly, respect for living 
creatures must be enforced; truth must be spoken. These are the 
virtues of the Law of Piety which must be practised. Similarly, the 
teacher must be reverenced by the pupil, and proper courtesy must be 
shown to relations. 

This is the ancient standard of piety — this leads to length of days, and 
according to this men must act.^ 

As these precepts were acceptable, for the most part, to Asoka's 
subjects and as he avowed a general toleration in other respects, this 
Edict might seem a harmless injunction to observe what were in fact 
established customs. But 'respect for living creatures' meant a partial 
enforcement of vegetarianism as from 243 B.C. 

. . . Many kinds of animals were absolutely protected from slaughter 
in any circumstances; and the slaying of animals commonly used for 
food by the flesh-eating population, although not totally prohibited, 
was hedged round by severe restrictions. On fifty-six specified days in 
the year, killing under any pretext was categorically forbidden; and in 
many ways the liberty of the subject was very seriously contracted. 
While Asoka lived, these regulations were, no doubt, strictly enforced 
by the special officers appointed for the purpose; and it is not unlikely 
that deliberate breach of the more important regulations was visited 
with the capital penalty, as it was later in the days of Harsha.'^ 
. . . Sacrifices involving the death of a victim, which are absolutely 
indispensable for the correct worship of some of the gods, were 
categorically prohibited, at least at the capital, from an early period 
in the reign. . . . Men might believe what they liked, but must do as 
they were told.^ 

A respect for life so fanatical as to involve capital punishment 
would seem somewhat remote from the philosophical ideas of 
Gautama himself. But the transformation of a Founder's ethical 
teaching into an elaborate and rigid ritual is the normal way in which 
religions develop. In this instance Asoka, who conquered Kalinga 
with (it is said) enormous bloodshed, used his powers to the utmost 
in support of Buddhism. 

. . . But the millenium had not arrived and human nature was not 
changed by the affirmation of great spiritual truths. The miracle which 
Asoka expected by his proclamations of the Dharma did not come to 
pass; and the spiritual insight which he so earnestly desired to give to 

' The early History of India from 600 B.C. to the Muhammadan Conquest. Vincent A. 
Smith. 3rd ed. Oxford, 1914. p. 178. 
^ Vincent A. Smith, op. cit. p. 177. 
^ Ibid. p. 179. 


all his subjects is less evident in early Buddhist records than extrava- 
gant faith in the wonder-working powers of the bodily relics of the 
Saints who taught the Good Law.^ 

If Asoka's ideas were remote from those of Gautama, the ideas of 
the common folk in India were still more remote from those of Asoka. 

The development of the theocracy of Byzantium and Rome can be 
traced back not merely to the teachings of Christ but to the organiza- 
tion of the Roman Empire. Politically, the story is simple in outline. 
The Roman Republic had a military success with which its political 
organization was quite unable to cope. The Roman constitution was 
basically that of a Greek colony. To use it for governing Italy was to 
stretch the system to breaking point. To use it for governing the 
known world was impossible. Republican Rome had no executive 
body smaller than the Senate, no permanent officials, no specialists 
in diplomacy or finance. In so far as the existence of democratic 
assemblies meant inviting the unemployed of Rome to advise on the 
governance of an Empire, the system was merely absurd. For the 
most successful general to make himself ruler was more or less 
inevitable. Julius Caesar, the first Commander-in-Chief to assume 
political control, annexed Egypt and made it part of the Empire. 
His successor, Augustus, (warned by Julius Caesar's fate), moved 
cautiously, assuming only Consular powers and the title of 'Princeps' 
or first citizen. He avoided anything like royalty. But, whereas 
Augustus was only 'Princeps' in Rome and Tmperator' in the 
Provinces, he was Pharaoh in Egypt, successor to the Hellenistic 
monarchy of the Ptolemies and seated upon the world's most ancient 
throne. In Egyptian monuments the Roman Emperors were to appear 
with inscriptions reading 'the Everliving, the Beloved of Isis, the 
Beloved of Phtha'.^ 

The tremendous inheritance of Egypt brought the Roman Emperors 
not only deity but an example of efficient administration based upon 
a strict separation of the military and civil powers. It was not until the 
reign of Domitian that the living Emperor was called 'Deus'. It was 
Aurelian, however, who proclaimed himself the representative of the 
Sun God, to resist whom henceforth would be impious as well as 
criminal. The imperial bureaucracy grew up under Claudius (a.d. 
41-54) and the Senate lost to it the last of its powers in 271. Before 
that, under Hadrian (a.d. 117-138) there had been established the 
imperial council of state, the imperial secretariat and the imperial 
system of postal communication. What is most significant however, 
about his reign is that he spent half his time away from Rome — 

' The History of Aryan Rule in India. E. B. Havcll. London, 1918. p. 102. 
- The Age of Constantine the Great. Jacob Burckhardt. Trans, by M. Hadas. London, 


in Spain, Syria, Britain and Africa — being away for five or six years 
at a stretch. This shows that the imperial administration could run, 
and did run for years, in the Emperor's absence. It was latterly 
copied less from Egypt than from the Sassanian administration in 
Persia; a ministerial system of the typically Oriental type. The Empire 
was governed by what came to be called the Sacred Consistory, 
comprising the heads of departments and the Chief Secretary of 
State. Beneath it, the Imperial Secretariat included six main 
branches. The other departments were those of the Interior, 
Finance, Crown Property, the Imperial Household, Justice, War, 
Transport and Police. With the Secretariat, the total is nine, the 
exact number of the ministries under the Ts'in Dynasty in China. The 
ministries are also practically the same but with the one major 
diflFerence that the Chinese had no police, the Prefect of the City's 
place being taken, with them, by a Minister for Economic Affairs.^ 

The Roman fusion of Soldier, Administrator and Lawyer had 
broken up. And if it is true that the soldier, in becoming more purely 
a soldier, became far less of a statesman, it is also true that the 
administrator became more efficient in becoming more specialised. It 
is even truer that the lawyer became more efficient when relieved of all 
but legal duties. The great Roman jurists applied to the Empire the 
customs of many different peoples, compared with each other in the 
light of Stoic philosophy, expounded with Greek intellectual subtlety 
and enforced with Roman strictness. It was the beginning of scientific 
jurisprudence, marked by the Perpetual Edict of Hadrian and crowned 
long afterwards by the Institutes of Justinian. The result of this new 
emphasis on law would eventually be the doctrine that the Emperor 
himself was subject to law. This, however, was long after the Emperor 
Constantine shifted his capital to the new city he had built on the 
Bosphorus, on the site of the older Greek Colony of Byzantium. 
The court so transplanted became more openly oriental and the 
change in itself foreshadowed the division of the Empire on the death 
of Theodosius in 395. The western Empire collapsed in 410 but that 
in the East survived and offers us another example of a State influ- 
enced and impelled by a missionary religion. This religion was 

So far as we know, Christ himself had no political ideas at all 
except in so far as he explicity accepted Roman rule and would take 
no part in any movement for its overthrow. He preached a doctrine 
not wholly unlike that of Buddhism but among a people and in a 
setting of a totally different kind. His was the Semitic world of the 
Middle East, 

• See Roman Political Institutions. L. P. Homo. p. 269. Legacv of the Ancient World. 
W. G. de Burgh. London, 1947. p. 25.3 and Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. XI. p. 432. 


Semites had no half tones in their register of vision. They were a 
people of primary colours, or rather of black and white, who saw the 
world always in contrast . . . their thoughts were at ease only in 
extremes. They inhabited superlatives by choice . . . their convictions 
were by instinct, their activities intuitional. Their largest manufacture 
was of creeds; almost they were monopolists of revealed religions. 
Three of these efforts . . . endured. These were Semitic successes. 
Their failures they kept to themselves. The fringes of the desert were 
strewn with broken faiths. The common base of all the Semitic 
creeds, winners or losers, was the ever-present idea of world worth- 
lessness. . . . The Semites hovered between lust and self-denial. They 
were incorrigible children of the idea, feckless and colour blind, to 
whom body and spirit were for ever and inevitably opposed.^ 

If the ideas of Christ himself were, like those of Gautama, ethical 
and abstract, his followers had much the same background as earlier 
believers in Judaism and later believers in Islam. Of the revealed 
religions the three of most permanent political effect came from the 
fringes of the same desert and were doomed to mutual hostility not 
because they are so different but because they are so alike. Christ's 
followers, like Gautama's, interpreted his teachings in the light of 
their own preconceived ideas. They had the mental outlook, when 
outside Palestine, of an unpopular minority which founded its unity on 
a book. From that sacred scripture they derived an idea of kingship 
but with divine sanction conferred by anointment at the hands of a 
prophet. They were God's Chosen People and, convinced that the 
divine plan would include their redemption and satisfy their hatred. 
Beneath a veneer of Hellenistic culture, they had all the Semitic 
intolerance. But the early Christians were also influenced by the 
destruction of Jerusalem, temple and all, in a.d. 70, which 
strengthened in them that hatred of the Romans which is expressed in 
Revelation. They were later influenced by intermittent persecution, 
both by the Jews and by the Romans; the former regarding them as 
deviationists and the latter as abstainers from formal Emperor- 

The essentials of Christian teaching, from the political point of 
view, are to be found in the doctrines concerning the fatherhood of 
God and the future life. A belief that God is father of all makes all 
human beings brothers and sisters and therefore (more or less) equal 
in value at least to God. Logically pursued, the doctrine abolishes all 
inherited rank or inherited slavery. Emphasis on the future life was 
not wholly new in itself but was new at least to many Christian 
converts. It involves the belief that the present life is merely a training 
(and elimination) of candidates for heaven. By Christian teaching the 
poorest and worst-treated have quite possibly the best chance of 

' The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. T. E. Lawrence. London, 1937. pp. 40-42. 


redemption, so that present inequalities may be made good hereafter. 
One might add that the Christian ethical teaching, with its insistence 
upon a high moral standard in honesty, kindness, abstinence and self- 
sacrifice, might mean that a Christian State (were one established) 
would have a moral purpose going far beyond the functions of any 
previous State. In the meanwhile, there was nothing in Christianity to 
justify armed revolt against even a pagan ruler; still less against a 
ruler even nominally a Christian. It was, however, found possible to 
justify resistance to heresy; to doctrines, that is to say, which would 
imperil the souls of those induced to believe in them. In Christianity 
the priesthood had been important from the beginning, having special 
power to convey the forgiveness of sins. As Christ had never married 
and as his closest followers had followed his example in this, all 
sexual relationships were regarded as more or less sinful and a con- 
cession, at best, to human weakness. So the Church's officers, at 
least, had to be celibate and there was, from the beginning, a definite 
place in the Church for those who forsook all human relationships 
and possessions, devoting themselves to contemplation and prayer. 
A final Christian characteristic was the desire to convert others for 
their own good and to save them from destruction or eternal torment. 
Although wholly benevolent in origin, this could lead in the end to 
persecution. It was something hitherto almost unknown. 

Jewish opposition led the Christians to seek for converts outside 
their own racial group, and their missionary efforts had a great 
measure of success. Romans of the more conservative type attributed 
the decline of their Empire to subversive Christian propaganda. It 
was in fact the other way about. In an age of growing uncertainty and 
confusion people turned to a revealed religion, showing a new 
interest in the next world as they came to expect less in this. Nor was 
Christianity the only religion to benefit from this growing insecurity. 
No other group, however, held such a typically Indian belief with 
such Arab intensity. Christians were peculiarly non-political believing 
as they did in an early end of the world with the second coming of 
Christ; an expectation which lingered, in fact, until a.d. 1001. In the 
meanwhile, however, their world, in the west, did end. The sack of 
Rome by Alaric in 410 had a stunning effect upon all to whom the 
Empire had seemed eternal. The catastrophe — repeated in 455 — was 
almost unthinkable. The western Empire crumbled and the Bishop of 
Rome, remaining at his post after the collapse, found himself the heir 
to its prestige and to some indeed of its political power and territory. 
Rome was to be the centre, henceforth, of a new theocracy which 
still exists. We have seen already (pp. 75-76) some of the arguments used 
to maintain its supremacy against any revival of the secular power. 
In the Eastern Empire, centred on Constantinople, the story was 


entirely different. Rome here survived but in an orientalised form. 
Gibbon describes with eloquence how oriental, how Persian, it had in 
fact become. 

The manly pride of the Romans, content with substantial power, 
had left to the vanity of the east the forms and ceremonies of osten- 
tatious greatness. But when they lost even the semblance of those 
virtues which were derived from their ancient freedom, the simplicity 
of Roman manners was insensibly corrupted by the stately affectation 
of the courts of Asia. The distinctions of personal merit and influence, 
so conspicuous in a republic, so feeble and obscure under a monarchy, 
were abolished by the despotism of the emperors, who substituted in 
their room a severe subordination of rank and office, from the titled 
slaves who were seated on the steps of the throne to the meanest 
instruments of arbitrary power. The multitude of abject dependants 
was interested in the support of the actual government, from the dread 
of a revolution, which might at once confound their hopes, and inter- 
cept the reward of their services. In this divine hierarchy (for such it is 
frequently styled), every rank was marked with the most scrupulous 
exactness, and its dignity was displayed in a variety of trifling and 
solemn ceremonies, which it was a study to learn, and a sacrilege to 
neglect. The purity of the Latin language was debased, by adopting, 
in the intercourse of pride and flattery, a profusion of epithets, which 
Tully would have scarcely understood, and which Augustus would 
have rejected with indignation. The principal officers of the empire 
were saluted, even by the sovereign himself, by the deceitful titles of 
your Sincerity, your Gravity, your Excellency, your Eminency, your 
sublime and wonderful Magnitude, your illustrious and magnificent 

However nauseating this ceremony might be to a good republican, 
the Byzantine Empire had at least the merit of success. And there can 
be no doubt that the stability of the Eastern Empire was largely due 
to its alliance with Christianity. It was Constantine who recognised 
in this widespread religion a stabilising force which he could use for 
political ends. He used Christianity even before he professed it.^ It 
was he who, at the Council of Nicaea, managed, as chairman, to 
induce the bishops to agree on the Nicene Creed. At this period 
Constantine retained all the prestige of the God-Emperor. He was 
approached with a ritual of prostration and it was a privilege to 
approach him at all.^ It was only on his deathbed in 337 that Con- 
stantine was actually baptised. And his successors. Christian in their 
turn, lost little of his sanctified authority. 

' The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon. London, 
1888. Vol. II. pp. 197-9. 

■ Western Political Thought. John Bowie. London, 1947. p. 125. See also Byzantine 
Civilisation. Steven Runciman. London, 1933. p. 79. 

' Byzantium, an Introduction to East Roman Civilization. Norman H. Baynes and H. 
Baynes and H. St. L. B. Moss (editors). Oxford, 1948. 


It might be thought that the Eastern Empire presented, at this 
period, a typical monarchy of the type familiar in Egypt, Persia or 
China. But there was this significant difference that Christianity is a 
missionary religion and that Byzantine religion, as now established, 
was intolerant in a new way. The tradition of Roman Law was 
maintained to a large extent but the aim of government was no longer 
secular. The State was responsible for morals, conduct, teaching and 
belief. The administration in later Byzantium was paternal in the 
extreme and affected daily life to a degree hardly equalled or exceeded 
until the present day. We hear of the tenth century Prefect of Con- 
stantinople fixing prices, wages and hours and licensing the opening 
of new shops. Migration and travel was discouraged, and travellers 
had to have passports. Work had to be found for the unemployed. 
The sabbath had to be duly observed and the good citizen had to be 
orthodox. As already discovered in Buddhist India of Asoka's time, 
the government which adopts or absorbs the doctrines of a missionary 
religion must assume functions far in excess of those ordinarily 
assumed. The essence of religious persecution lies in government 
swayed by religious beliefs which not all those governed may share. 
Under a theocracy religious persecution is all but inevitable. 

Like Christianity, Islam derives from the Semitic peoples of the 
desert. Like Christianity again, it has been modified by the peoples 
and civilisations which its adherents have conquered or absorbed. It 
sprang up among the nomad tribes of Arabia, living midway between 
a declining Roman Empire and a dechning empire of Persia. These 
desert people have made periodic invasions of the Fertile Crescent, 
as it has been called, which lies temptingly to the northward of their 
poor, barren land. The rise of Islam represents just such another 
invasion but informed with a different purpose. Until the time of 
Muhammad, who was born about a.d. 570, each Arab tribe had 
possessed its own tribal god (the Jews' Jahweh was one of them) with 
a worship involving sacrifice, prayer, omens, images and 'Jinns' or 
demons. Mecca was a place of pilgrimage because of its 'caaba' or 
black stone and 'Allah' or 'Lord' was the title any Arab would give 
to any god.^ Being influenced by more civilised peoples near them, the 
Arabs knew something of Judaism and Christianity. 

Muhammad was born at Mecca, married at the age of 25 and 
began, some years later, to see visions and hear voices. An angel 
appeared to him when he was aged forty and again two or three years 
later. Then he had repeated revelations and some people thought him 
mad. He preached the need for submission (Islam) to the one god 
(Allah), together with prayer, abstinence and alms-giving. Persecuted 
for his views, he fled with his followers to Medina in 622 (the Hegira) 

' The Arabs in History. Bernard Lewis. London, 1950. Chap. 1. 


and there became all-powerful. He captured Mecca in a.d. 630 and 
made it the capital of Islam. Soon afterwards, in 632, he died, leaving 
the Koran for his followers' guidance. As the Western Roman Empire 
had virtually ceased to exist in 476, and as Heraclius defeated the 
Persians at Nineveh in 627, there was a political vacuum to the east 
and west of Arabia. On the other hand, Byzantium remained strong. 
The Arab invasion split, as it were, on the rock of Constantinople and 
flowed eastwards and westwards, its furthest tide reaching China in 
one direction and France in the other. The Arabs could have achieved 
nothing on this scale without a powerful creed. For Muhammad, 
remember, with his personality and his gifts as a ruler, was dead 
before this great movement had even begun. It was his ideas that 
went so far and so fast, sometimes even outstripping his followers 
themselves, well mounted as they were. 

Islam is summarised in one basic profession of faith. There is no 
God but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah'. There is no 
room here for tolerance. The followers of the prophet belonged to a 
brotherhood of the faithful, superseding all blood-ties. They were to 
be distinguished by the pious observances of prayer (facing Mecca), 
by attendance at the Mosque, by keeping Friday as the 'Sabbath', by 
complete abstinence from wine, by fasting during Ramadan and by 
the pilgrimage to Mecca. They were allowed to be polygamous, with 
up to four wives at a time — the women to go veiled. Followers of the 
prophet were also bound to fight the infidel and make Islam prevail 
everywhere, the fallen in this war being sure of paradise and the non- 
combatants bound at least to help by contributing towards the cost 
of the war. Muslims revealed, in particular, a growing hostility against 
Judaism and Christianity; the former because the Jews had been 
opponents of the prophet, the latter because the doctrine of the 
Trinity was not strictly monotheistic. 

Of the people of Islam it has been said: — 

This community is diflFerent from any other: it is the chosen, the 
holy people, to whom is entrusted the furtherance of good and the 
repression of evil; it is the only seat of justice and faith upon earth, 
the sole witness for God among the nations, just as the Prophet had 
been God's witness among the Arabs. ^ 

The doctrine, therefore, of human equality has no support from the 
orthodox Muslim. As against that, Muslims claim to be politically 
equal among themselves. 

As to the Muslim theory of government, it is embodied in two verses 
of the Quran 'Consult with your companions in conduct of affairs' 
(3 ; 159) 'The way of the Companions of the Prophet to govern 

' The Legacy of Islam. Ed. by Sir Thomas Arnold. Oxford, 1931. p. 284. 


their affairs is by counsel' (42 : 38). These verses lay down for all 
time the guiding principle of government. . . . 

As to the political ideal of Islam, one could quote instances from 
Islamic history to show the absolute equality of all men in Islam, the 
head of the State, the Caliph, not excepted. This conception of justice 
which differentiates between the subject and the ruler is repugnant to 
the Muslim. To the Quran both the servant and the master, the slave 
and the king, have equal legal status. . . .^ 

Failing more explicit guidance from the Koran, the Muslim must 
turn for political advice to Islamic history and tradition. This would 
be more helpful if the Arabs had recorded their history more 
promptly.- Traditions they have, nevertheless, in plenty, and these 
emphasise the duty of obedience to the ruler. 

'The Apostle of God said: after me will come rulers; render them 
your obedience ... if they are righteous and rule you well, they shall 
have their reward; but if they do evil and rule you ill, then punishment 
will fall upon them and you will be quit of it. . . .'^ 

We have, therefore, in Islam, two somewhat conflicting ideas; the 
Arab concept of equality in brotherhood and an added idea of 
obedience to a ruler; and indeed to any ruler. Equality was difficult to 
sustain, in any case, because Muhammad left a widow, daughters and 
uncles, all of whom were bound to be privileged; and he also left 
friends who were in the best position to know what he thought or 
what, in given circumstances, he might have done. As for the auth- 
ority of the ruler, that was bound to grow among an aggressive people, 
faced with problems of war, conquest, empire and administration. 
And Muhammad had left them, in lieu of advice, his own example; 
and his powers seem to have been pretty absolute. What he failed to 
leave was an appointed successor, an heir, or any directions as to how 
his successor should be appointed; if indeed there was to be a 
successor at all. 

When Muhammad died there were four parties of Muslims: the 
Early Believers (who had taken part in the Hegira); the Believers of 
Medina (who had invited him there); the converts of Mecca (con- 
verted by force after the capture), headed by the aristocratic family of 
the Umayyad; and a party of mixed origin which expected God to 
appoint the Prophet's successor.* After much disagreement, Abu 
Bakr (the Prophet's father-in-law) was elected, to be followed by 

' Muhaminad 'A Mercv to all the Nations'. Al. Haji Qassim Ali Jairazbhoy. London 
1934. p. 239. 

' The Law of War and Peace in Islam. A Study in Muslim International Law. Majid 
Khadduri. London, 1940. 

" The Caliphate. Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Oxford, 1924. pp. 48-50. 

' Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory. Duncan 
B. Macdonald. London, 1903. (Chapters I and 11). 


Umar in 634. Both these belonged to the party of the Early Believers, 
but when Umar died in 644, the Umayya clan secured the election of 
Uthman (son-in-law of the Prophet), who was assassinated in 655 by a 
son of Abu Bakr. The fourth or legitimist party then gained the 
choice of Ali, another son-in-law of the Prophet. He was supplanted 
by the Umayyads, who ruled, more or less, until 750; one branch, 
indeed, in Spain, surviving until 929 or later. In Arabia itself the 
Khalifate virtually ended with the Mongol conquest of 656 when the 
Abbasids fell. The Ottoman Sultans claimed to be Khalifa as from 
1538 but with little real authority over any other Muslim rulers. 
Orthodoxy has been upheld not so much by the Sultans as by the 
Sharif families of Mecca. 

Muslim orthodoxy is largely a matter of Muslim law. Muhammad 
had ruled Medina and, later, Mecca, acting as judge, using local 
customary law when he thought good, using his own judgment (or 
revelation) when that seemed to him better. In place, therefore, of a 
legal code, he left his decisions in the accidental sequence of their 
delivery. Decisions made to settle squabbles among the Medina 
townsfolk are found to cover subjects as various as prayer, ritual 
ablution, poor-rates, fasting, pilgrimage, business transactions, 
inheritance, marriage, divorce, intoxicants, the holy war, hunting, 
racing, vows and slavery. The result is an elaborate but unsystematic 
system of conduct. 

How, indeed, can we meet a legal code which knows no destinction 
of personal or public, of civil or criminal law; which prescribes and 
describes the use of the toothpick and decides when a wedding 
invitation may be declined, which enters into the minutest and most 
unsavoury details of family life and lays down rules of religious retreat ! 
Is it by some subtle connection of thought that the chapter on oaths 
and vows follows immediately that on horse-racing, and a section on 
the building line on a street is inserted in a chapter on bankruptcy and 
composition? One thing, at least, is abundantly clear. Muslim law, in 
the most absolute sense, fits the old definition, and is the science of all 
things, human and divine. ... It takes all duty for its portion and 
defines all action in terms of duty. Nothing can escape the narrow 
meshes of its net. One of the greatest legists of Islam never ate a 
watermelon because he could not find that the usage of the Prophet 
had laid down and sanctioned a canonical method of doing so.^ 

The Caliphate in its original form, provided with the prophet's 
detailed guidance, was no ordinary monarchy or priesthood. It 
might, in different circumstances, have become a theocracy com- 
parable to that of Rome. It did not, however, last long enough for 

' The Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory. 
D. B. Macdonald. London, 1903. pp. 66-67 and Appendix I, pp. 351-357. 


In point of fact, the caliphate as it is fondly imagined by jurists 
never had a real existence . . . hardly had the first Muslim generation 
died away when the practical needs of a great polity, and the unruly 
temper of the Arabs, combined to transform the caliphate first into a 
personal rule under the Umayyads; then, under the Abbasids, into a 
monarchy on the Persian pattern, whose apparent orthodoxy but ill- 
concealed the despotism, the violence, and the administrative mis- 
management which were pushing the empire to its ruin.^ 

But if the Muslim Empire was short-lived it survived at least long 
enough to demonstrate its religious intolerance in Persia, Syria, 
Egypt and Spain. And it differed from Christian intolerance in the 
one important respect, that conversion was not its object. In con- 
quered territories the unbelievers were left in possession of their 
lands but specially taxed. They were destined for hell-fire as infidels 
but extensive conversion to the true faith would have been financially 
undesirable. The Muslim imposed social and legal disabilities and then 
left the subject population to its own devices." It would be true, 
therefore, to say that while the Arab Muslims imposed a rigid code 
of conduct on themselves, they rarely attempted to enforce the same 
rules on others. On the other hand, their avowed policy of conquest, 
the Holy War, brought them into continual conflict with Christians 
who were, if anything, less tolerant than they. After the fall of the 
Caliphate, the Arabs added little that was new to the practice or 
theory of politics. The Muslim ruler was much like any other oriental 
king but with a special responsibility towards his co-religionists and 
a sense of equality with them for purposes of religion. This ideal is 
well expressed in a letter from the Caliph Omar to the Governor of 
Basra : — 

. . . Strike terror into wrongdoers and make heaps of mutilated limbs 
out of them. Visit the sick among Moslems, attend their funerals, open 
your gate to them and give heed in person to their affairs, for you are 
but a man amongst them except that God has allotted you the heaviest 

For the rest, the functions of a Muslim ruler have been defined as 
judgment, taxation, the Friday worship and the Holy War. He is 
accorded no legislative power, God being the only law-giver and his 
laws already known. He does not normally even interpret the law, 
that being the work of experts in jurisprudence. His duties were 
simple and so remained as long as government was centred in Arabia. 

In conquered territories the Muslim ruler usually inherited the more 

' The Legacy of Islam. Ed. by Sir Thomas Arnold. Oxford, 1931. p. 301. 
- The Arabs in History. Ccrnard Lewis. London, 1950. p. 140. 

^ An Introduction to the Sociology of Islam. R. Levy. 2 vols. London, n.d. Vol. L 
p. 284. 


complex administration of a more settled people. While the arabs 
retained the position of an alien aristocracy, ruling in the name of 
God and his prophet, they found themselves compelled to employ 
advisers, financial experts, architects, engineers, physicians, teachers 
and artists. And these tended more and more to be Christians, 
Persians and Jews. The administration soon altered radically in 
character, much to the resentment of fanatical Muslims.' At Baghdad, 
Damascus, in Tunis and Andalusia, Muslim rule became less and less 
distinguishable from that of any oriental monarchy. Perhaps the 
most distinctive feature was the way in which men of wealth were 
encouraged to gain religious merit by founding mosques and hospitals, 
building bridges and rest-houses (for pilgrims) and constructing 
reservoirs and aqueducts.- The greatest arab achievements were 
intellectual and resulted from combining the ideas of the various 
peoples they had conquered. But this arab bridging of the gap between 
East and West, vitally important as it was in matters of pure science,'^ 
was perhaps least fruitful in political development. 

The most interesting example of a Muslim State being super- 
imposed upon a people with a different religion is that of Mogul 
India. Historically, this happens quite late, for the Mogul Empire in 
India was not founded by Babar until 1505 nor completed until the 
time of Akbar (1556-1605). These Moguls were of Mongol descent 
but came more immediately from Turkestan. They were Muslims and 
brought a Muslim army into the Delhi kingdom of Hindostan; until 
then divided between five Muslim and two Hindu rulers.'* It is inter- 
esting to see how Muslim rule developed, more especially in the reign 
of Akbar and Aurangzib. 

The duties of a Muslim king in an Islamic state . . . require him to rule 
in accordance with the Quranic law ... it may be noted that Islamic 
law divides the subjects under a Muslim king into two sections, 
believers and non-believers, and imposes a duty upon the king to see 
that believers live as true Muslims, and non-believers remain in the 
position allotted to them as Zimonis, a position which denies them 
equal status with Muslim subjects, but guarantees security of life and 
property and the continuance of their religion and religious practices 
under certain defined conditions. 

Thus a Muslim king, besides performing the ordinary duties con- 
nected with his office, has also to uphold the dignity of his religion 
through defined channels and to rule according to Islamic law. 

The impossibility of ruling India on these lines was felt as early as 
the thirteenth century. . . .^ 

• A Short History of the Middle East. G. E. Kirk. London, 1948. p. 24. 
- Muslim Institutions. Maurice Gaudefroy-Dcmombyncs. London, 1950. p. 114. 
'■' Muhani/nad '/I Merer to all Nations'. Al-Haji Qassim All Jairazbiiov. London, 
1934. p. 222. 

' The Agrarian System of Moslem India. W. H. Moreland. Cambridge, 1929. p. 21. 
■' The Central Structure of the Mughal Etnpire. Ibn Hasan. Oxford, 1936. p. 306. 


The impossibility appears from what Jalal-ud-din is said to have 
remarked to his chief adviser. 'Every day Hindus, who are the 
deadliest enemies of Islam, pass by my palace beating drums and 
trumpets and go out to the Jamna and practise idolatry openly . . . 
and we call ourselves Muslims. . . ."^ This is a confession of failure. 
But the fact is that a King by Hindu ideas was more sacred and more 
important than Muslim law would quite allow him to be. A Hindu 
king was less restrained by law. The Hindus had no theory of 
equality before God. So that the process by which a Muslim monarchy 
succumbed to the prevailing Hindu atmosphere of India had its 
consolations for the monarch himself. 

Something of this process may appear from the style of address 
used respectively at the Courts of Babur and Humayan. Babur was 
officially described as: 

. . . King of the four quarters, and of the seven heavens; celestial 
sovereign; diadem of the sublime throne; great of genius and greatness- 
conferring; fortune-increaser; of excellent horoscope; heaven in 
comprehensiveness; earth in stability; lionhearted; clime-capturer; 
lofty in splendour; of active brain; searcher after knowledge; rank- 
breaking lion rampant; exalter of dominion; ocean-hearted; of illust- 
rious origin; a saintly sovereign; enthroned in the kingdom of reality 
and spirituality.^ 

This cold and laconic description would not suffice for Humayan, 
who was: 

. . . Theatre of great gifts; source of lofty inspirations; exalter of the 
throne of the Khilifat of greatness; planter of the standard of sublime 
rule; Kingdom-bestowing conqueror of Countries; Auspicious sitter 
upon the throne; founder of the Canons of justice and equity; arranger 
of the demonstrations of greatness and sovereignty; spring of the 
fountains of glory and beneficence; water-gate for the rivers of learn- 
ing; brimming rain-cloud of choiceness and purity; billowy sea of 
liberality and loyalty; choosing the right, recognising the truth; sole 
foundation of many laws; both a King of dervish race and a dervish 
with a King's title; parterre-adorning arranging of realm and religion; 
garland-twiner of spiritual and temporal blossoms; throne of the sphere 
of eternal mysteries; alidad of the astrolabe of theory and practice; 
in austerities of asceticism and spiritual transports, a Grecian Plato; in 
executive energy and the paths of energy, a second Alexander; pearl 
of the seven oceans and glory of the four elements, ascension-point of 
suns and dawn of Jupiter; phoenix (huma) towering to the heights of 

This not unfavourable prospectus, whether accurate or not in all 

' Ibid. p. 307. 

'^ Tiie Alibarnama of Abii-!-Foal. Trans, by H. Beveridge. Vol. I. 

" The Commercial Policy of tlie Moguls. D. Pant. Bombay, 1930. p. 30. 


particulars — and some parts of it seem at least open to argument — is 
not especially Muslim. Indeed, the words 'sole foundation of many 
laws' are in virtual contradiction of Islamic doctrine. On the other 
hand, these titles of respect (verging perhaps on flattery) suggest how 
completely the Muslim practice had been assimilated by the Hindu 
tradition. It involved as exacting a routine for Jahangir as it had for 
Chandragupta. Akbar worked even more continually and Aurangzeb, 
if he worked less, prayed more; so that he slept, it is said, only three 
hours in the twenty-four. The Moghul system of government was 
equally in accordance with Hindu precedent, and the list of Ministers 
originally much the same. But the effect of adding a Muslim intoler- 
ance to a Hindu administration was to add considerably to the 
government's tendency to interfere in every aspect of life. This is 
indicated by Akbar's creation of new departments of agriculture, 
pensions, price-control, inheritance, minerals and forests.^ Humayan 
is said to have grouped the departments into four categories, dealing 
respectively with Fire, Air, Water and Earth; logically satisfying, 
perhaps, as a plan and yet not without an element of mystery, too." 
Ministers were paid either by the Treasury or by the allocation of 
revenue from a certain area, but any fortune they accumulated 
reverted when they died to the Emperor.^ Revenue derived mainly 
from land, the one-sixth of the produce collected under Hindu rule 
rising to between a third and a half in Muslim India. There were, in 
addition, customs duties, inheritance taxes, a poll-tax claimed from 
Christians and Jews, a tax on salt and state monopolies established 
in saltpetre, indigo and lead. State interference extended to religion 
and Akbar made a spirited but unsuccessful attempt to unite Islam 
and Hinduism in a new state religion with himself (an agnostic) as 

While the Moghuls thus tried to unify Hindustan and abolish 
Muslim dominance, their rule was nevertheless far from secular.^ 
Their administration was penetrated with the idea that the State must 
promote morality and punish irreligion and vice. Thus, the 'kotwal' 
of the Moghul period fairly carried out the duties of the Nagaraka or 
Town Prefect of Mauryan days. 

For the Kotwal kept a register of houses and roads; divided the 
town into quarters, and placed an assistant in direct charge of each 
quarter, who had to report daily arrivals and departures; he kept a 
small army of spies or detectives ... he enforced a curfew-order; kept 
an eye on the currency ; fixed local prices and examined dealers' weights 
and measures; kept inventories of the property of persons dying 

' CamhriJi;e History of India. Vol. IV. Mughul Period. Cambridge 1937. p. 133. 
' The Commercial Policy of /he Moi^iils. D. Pant. Bombay, 1930. p. 30. 
• Mm^ha! Rule in India.' S. M. Edwards and H. L. O. Garrett. Oxford. 1930. 
' A History of the Great Moghuls. (1605-1739) Pringie Kennedy. Caiculla, 1911. 


intestate; set apart wells and ferries for the use of women; stopped 
women riding on horseback; prevented cattle slaughter; kept a check 
on slavery; expelled religious enthusiasts, calendars, and dishonest 
tradesmen, from the urban area; allotted separate quarters to butchers, 
sweepers and hunters; set apart land for burial-grounds; and arranged 
for the illumination of the town on the occasion of festivals and 
holidays. This by no means exhausts the tale of the kotwal's duties. 
He was expected to know everything about everybody; to visit condign 
punishment upon any one who demeaned himself by consorting and 
drinking with a public executioner; to prevent sati, if the woman was 
disinclined to sacrifice herself; to put a stop to circumcision before the 
age of twelve; to prevent the slaughter of oxen, buffaloes, horses and 
camels; and during the reign of Akbar, to enforce also the observance 
of the Ila/ii calendar and of the special festivals and ritual prescribed 
by the Emperor.'^ 

To quote another source: 

The Kotwal must appoint one or more brokers, to transact the 
various kinds of commercial business; and, after taking security from 
them must station such in the market place that they may afford 
information regarding such things as are bought and sold. He must 
also make it a rule that every person buying or selling, without the 
advice of the above-mentioned brokers, will be deemed in fault; that 
both the name of the buyer and seller must be written in the register 
of daily transactions." 

While we may feel a certain sympathy for the kotwal, whose leisure 
would seem to have been strictly limited, we must also note the wide 
variety of actions (not obviously harmful in themselves) which might 
involve punishment. These range from using the wrong calendar to 
setting a woman on horseback; from drinking with the hangman to 
selling a chicken without the advice of the official broker. Nor did 
government interference end there, for a characteristic of Moghul 
policy was the discouragement of the use of intoxicants. The maker, 
the seller, and the drinker of wine could all be punished. For excess in 
drinking the penalties were still more severe, even under Akbar (who 
drank wine himself). During his reign, wine was obtainable only on 
medical advice and from an official wine shop. 'Persons who wished 
to purchase wine, as a remedy for sickness, could do so by having 
their name, and that of their father and grandfather, written down by 
the clerk'. ^ The ways of officialdom do not change, it seems. 

If Akbar was half-hearted as a moralist, Aurangzib (1658-1681) 
more than made up for it."* A strict Muslim, he appointed a censor 

' Mughal Rule in India, op cit. pp. 185-186. 

' The Commercial Policy of the Moguls. D. Pant. Bombay, 1930. p. 44. 

^ Ibid. p. 45. 

' He even ordered the destruction of Hindu schools and temples, while continuing 
to encourage, as Akbar had done, the Muslim schools devoted to the study of Urdu 
and Persian. 


(Muhtasib) in every large city 'to enforce the prophet's laws and put 
down forbidden practices, such as drinicing, gambUng and the ilhcit 
commerce of the sexes'.^ The same officer was to punish heresy, 
blasphemy, omission of the five daily prayers and failure to observe 
Ramayan. Later in life Aurangzib became still more puritanical and 
forbade music at court. 

But this attempt to elevate mankind by one stroke of the official pen 
failed, as Akbar's social reforms had failed before. Aurangzib's 
government made itself ridiculous by violently enforcing for a time, 
then relaxing, and finally abandoning a code of puritanical morals 
opposed to the feelings of the entire population, without first trying to 
educate them to a higher level of thought. As Manucci observed, 
there were few who did not drink secretly, and even the ministers and 
qazis loved to get drunk at home. Gambling continued to be practised 
in his camp, and his order to all the courtesans and dancing girls to 
marry or leave the realm remained a dead letter.- 

On this last point Akbar had been less drastic, contenting himself 
with the formation of a prostitutes' quarter outside each town, with 
a superviser and clerk appointed 'to register the names of those who 
resorted to them. No one could take a dancing girl to his house 
without permission'.-' These rules, while indicating disapproval, also 
suggest a desire to share in the profits. As Aurangzib pointed out, 
'Kingship means the protector of the realm and the guardianship of 
the people ... a king is merely God's elected custodian and the trustee 
of His money for the benefit of the subjects'.' 

As an early experiment in Socialism, Moghul India was less com- 
plete than the Chinese experiment of a.d. 9 to 25. Akbar could hardly 
rival Wang Mang with his nationalisation of land, timber, iron and 
copper. On the other hand, the Moghuls fully demonstrated just how 
over-centralised a State could become. What was the result? It was 
ruin. It was ruin, moreover, of a peculiar kind. 

... in the India of our period the working of the administration was, 
next to the rainfall, the most important factor in the economic life of 
the country. It acted directly on the distribution of the national in- 
come to an extent which is now difficult to realise, for in practice the 
various governments disposed of somewhere about one half of the 
entire gross produce of the land, and they disposed of it in such a way 
that the producers were left with a bare subsistence or very little more, 
while the energies of the unproductive classes were spent in the struggle 
to secure the largest possible share. The reaction on production was 
inevitably unfavourable; producers were deprived of the natural 

' The Cnmhri(/i;e History of liulia. Vol. IV. p. 230. 

- Ihicl. p. 230. ' 

■' The Commercial Policy of the iVfoi^hitls. D. Pant. pp. 45-46. 


incentive to energy, because they could not hope to retain any material 
proportion of an increase in their income; men of ability or talent were 
discouraged from producing ... it was better to be a peon than a 
peasant; and critics who express surprise at the tendency of Indian 
brains and energy to seek employment in the service of the State will 
find ample explanation in the history of the centuries during which no 
other career was possible.^ 

What W. H. Moreland and his readers may have found difficult to 
visualise in 1923, we are now perhaps in a better position to focus. It 
needs nowadays no such effort of imagination to picture a State in 
which productive and creative energy has been brought to a standstill 
by excess of administration. It is even easier for us to foresee the 
national bankruptcy which is likely to result. The process, in Moghul 
India, was relatively swift. By the reign of Aurangzib a policy of over- 
taxation had produced a scarcity of peasants and a tendency for land 
to go out of cultivation. Francois Bernier, who spent eight years as 
physician at the Moghul Court, remarked upon this, pointing out 

. . . many of the peasantry, driven to despair by so execrable a tyranny, 
abandon the country, and seek a more tolerable mode of existence, 
either in the towns or camps; as bearers of burdens, carriers of water, 
or servants to horsemen. Sometimes they fly to the territories of a 
Raja, because there they find less oppression. . . .- 

In fact, by the reign of Aurangzib, government was defeating its 
own end. All interest was concentrated upon the division of the annual 
produce and no attention was paid to any plan for increasing it. The 
system was bound to collapse, and collapse, in effect, it did. But the 
interest, for our present purpose, of this experiment is not in its 
economic aspect but in the moral purpose which impels a theocracy 
into thus attempting to control every human activity from the cradle 
to the grave. 

Theocracy has not, of course, been confined to Oriental kingdoms. 
Contemporary with the Moghuls, for instance, lived John Calvin, 
who inspired the setting up of a theocratic Republic at Geneva. 
Calvin's doctrines centre upon predestination. He taught 

.... that God, by his eternal and immutable Counsel, determined 
once and for all those whom it was his pleasure to admit to salvation, 
and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to 
destruction: we maintain that this counsel, as regards his Elect, is 
founded on his free mercy, without any respect of human merit. While 
those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life 

' From Akbar to Aurangzib, a stitdv in Indian Economic Historv. W. H. Moreland. 
London, 1923. p. 233. 

- The Agrarian System of Moslem India. W. H. Moreland. Cambridge, 1929. p. 147. 


by a just and blameless but at the same time incomprehensible decree. 
In regard to his Elect, we regard calling as the evidence of election and 
Justification as another symbol of its manifestation.' 

Geneva was ruled by an oligarchy of merchants and it was these 
that Calvin converted, making them all eager to appear (and mani- 
festly) as of the Elect. The result was an identification of the objects of 
Church and State. The magistrates were to see that God was obeyed, 
backsliders punished and heretics killed. What this Calvinist discipline 
meant is apparent from the Registers of the Genevan Council from 
1545 to 1547. 

A man who swore by the 'body and blood of Christ' was condemned 
to sit in the public square in the stocks, and to be fined. 

Another, hearing an ass bray, and saying jestingly, 'II chante un 
beau psaume', was sentenced to temporary banishment from the 
city. . . . 

... A young girl, in Church, singing the words of a song to the tune of 
the psalm, was ordered to be whipt by her parents. 

Drunkennessanddebauchery were visited with more severe penalties; 
adultery more than once with death. Prostitutes who ventured back 
to Geneva were mercilessly thrown into the Rhone. Cards were 
altogether prohibited. Rope-dancers and conjurers were forbidden to 
exhibit. . . .- 

But while Calvin and Aurangzib had thus so much in common, the 
former's rule was far the more effective as extending over only a 
small area. For a time at least, Geneva was very godly indeed. But it 
was no part of Calvinist doctrine to make men forswear their business 
and seek a life of contemplation. They were to continue their normal 
work, showing their membership of the Elect by their conduct. This 
would mean strict morality, sobriety, plain dress and no ritual. But 
how could they show that God approved of them? One way was by 
worldly success, known as 'making good'. So that morality soon came 
to include the virtues likely to promote success: hard work, abstin- 
ence, punctuality, exact accounts, tidiness and a strict control over 
the young and the poor. Ensuring that employees did their work had 
the double merit of making money and preventing the idleness which 
would lead to mischief. Here was the ideal religion for merchants and 
industrialists, tending to favour wealth but discourage luxury. A 
typical hatred of the Calvinist was for the theatre, as combining 
colour, music, beauty, worldliness, frivolity, sex, sin, waste of money 
and waste of time. The calvinist wanted a republic ruled by people 
like himself, necessarily a small minority. Mankind being mostly 

' Institutes. John Calvin. Bk. Ill, XXI, 5-7. See Western Political Thought. John 
Bowie. London, 1947. pp. 277-283. 

- The Political Consequences of the Reformation. R. H. Murray. London, 1926. p. 9L 


damned 'except in so far as Grace rescues some, not many, who would 
otherwise perish', the Elect were of necessity few. if they were power- 
less, Calvin told them to be patient and accept the trial of their faith; 
but later Calvinists, like Knox and Buchanan, were more inclined to 
preach resistance to Catholic tyranny. When weak, they talked of 
Natural Law and the limits of State interference. When strong, they 
talked of the need for a godly discipline. In denying themselves many 
pleasures which others would think harmless, they could still take 
pleasure in power and cruelty. Their final authority was God; that is, 
holy scripture as interpreted by themselves. 


Theocracy justified in Theory 

THEOCRATIC government, if based upon a revealed religion, 
rests upon an assumption which is, to the behever, manifestly 
true. Simplest of these is the Muslim creed There is no God but 
Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah'. Once that is agreed, 
the rest follows logically. Government should follow Muhammad's 
precept and example. If it is agreed, similarly, that 'Jesus is the Son 
of God', it remains only to discover and follow his ideas and practice. 
The Buddhist's argument had been much the same and was framed 
at an earlier date, it need not astonish us, therefore, to discover that 
the more fervent believers in the revealed religions have left us few 
works of political theory. On the one hand, they have many of them 
regarded this world as too transitory to be worth amending. On the 
other hand, such reform as is worth while must be in accordance with 
God's will. And, granted the assumption that God's will is known, 
the idea of accepting any lesser authority is manifestly absurd. The 
theoretical explanations of Theocracy are not, therefore, concerned 
for the most part with the abstract question of what is best. They are 
concerned more with interpreting God's will and applying it to the 
problem in hand. 

Among the first of these religious thinkers was St. Augustine (a.d. 
354-430) the Bishop of Hippo, his diocese being now known as Bona, 
in Algeria. More of a philosopher than St. Ambrose, he wrote his 
De Civitate Dei after the sack of Rome in 410, not completing it 
however until 426. His first object was to prove (as he easily might) 
that Rome's fall was not due, as some alleged, to the weakening 
influence of Christianity. He goes on, however, from there to show 
that the world is divided into two societies, those who dwell in the 
invisible City of God, and those who dwell in sin. The worldly 
society must be absorbed by the City of God, for 'the hell of secular 
society unredeemed by Christianity is not even capable of improve- 
ment'. He infers, therefore, that Christianity can improve the State. 
More than that, he would have the State closely bound up with the 
Church. He does not, however, in so many words, make the lay ruler 
subordinate. A modern writer has expressed Augustine's position 

The Christian ruler needs the Church for guidance in the spiritual 



life: the bishops need the help of the secular law to deal with secular 
affairs; in theory they ought to work together in harmony, but the 
moment they cease to do so the spiritual authority will be invoked. St. 
Augustine has stated the fundamental axiom that the secular state 
was spiritually dead unless it made a close alliance with the Church, 
and human life only intelligible and significant in the light of the 
doctrine of the Fall and the Redemption. ^ 

That is St. Augustine's basic assumption but he argues, further, 
that God has prescribed (and was bound to prescribe) how even the 
secular State should be ruled. In an eloquent passage he asks, in 
effect, how it could be otherwise: 

Wherefore the great and mighty God with His Word and His Holy 
Spirit (which three are one), God only omnipotent. Maker and 
Creator of every soul, and of every body, in participation of whom, 
all such are happy that follow His truth and reject vanities: He that 
made man a reasonable creature of soul and body, and He that did 
neither let him pass unpunished for his sin, nor yet excluded him from 
mercy: He that gave both unto good and bad essence with the stones, 
power of production with the trees, senses with the beasts of the field, 
and understanding with the angels: He, from whom is all being, beauty, 
form and order, number, weight and measure: He, from whom all 
nature, mean and excellent, all seeds of form, all forms of seed, all 
motion, both of forms and seeds derive and have being: He that gave 
flesh the original beauty, strength, propagation, form and shape, 
health and symmetry: He that gave the unreasonable soul, sense, 
memory and appetite, the reasonable besides these phantasy, under- 
standing, and will: He (I say) having left neither heaven, nor earth, 
nor angel, nor man, no nor the most base and contemptible creature, 
neither the bird's feather, nor the herb's flower, nor the tree's leaf, 
without the true harmony of their parts, and peaceful concord of 
composition; it is no way credible, that He would leave the kingdoms 
of men, and their bondages and freedoms loose and uncomprised in 
the laws of His eternal providence." 

St. Augustine's argument proceeds from this point. The secular 
State has a right order of its own and, rightly ordered, can be useful to 
those who dwell in the City of God. It has a relative value, based 
upon and adjusted to sinful human nature. Thus, such institutions as 
government, property and slavery have a value where sin has made 
an absolute righteousness impossible. When the secular State is 
absorbed by the City of God they will disappear. In the meanwhile, 
they are better than disorder and are instituted accordingly by God. 
But St. Augustine is careful to emphasise that the supreme good 
cannot be attained by any earthly means, whatever pagan philosophy 

' Western Political Thought. John Bowie. London, 1947. p. 138. 
' The Citv of God. St. Augustine. Translated by John Healey. 1610. Reprinted, 
London, 1931. (Chapter II). 


may have taught. Thus the pagan virtues of temperance, prudence, 
justice and fortitude do not lead (without God) to happiness; and 
fortitude by itself leads only to suicide. The supreme good is eternal 
peace, peace of the soul, which comes only from God. It should be 
attained successively in the home, the city, the state, the world and 
the universe. Until this happens, a relative peace may be enjoyed in 
any society based on love where: 

They who exercise authority are in the service of those over whom 
they appear to exercise authority; and they exercise their authority 
not from a desire for domination but by virtue of a duty to give counsel 
and aid.^ 

While, however, agreeing that a wise and virtuous rule may exist, 
he emphasises that the rule is ordained by God and that a bad rule 
is intended as a punishment. 

. . . This one God . . . whilst it was His pleasure, let Rome have 
sovereignty: so did He with Assyria and Persia who (as their books 
say) worshipped only two gods. 

. . . And so for the men: He that gave Marius rule, gave Caesar rule: 
He that gave Augustus it, gave Nero it. . . . He that gave it to Con- 
stantine the Christian, gave it also to Julian the Apostate, whose 
worthy towardness was wholly blinded by sacrilegious curiosity. . . r 

So far from advising revolt against a bad ruler St. Augustine doubts 
even whether it matters sufficiently. 

For what skills it in respect of this short and transitory life, under 
whose dominion a mortal man doth live, so he be not compelled to 
acts of impiety or injustice. . . . [He argues that the States conquered 
by Rome might just as well have given in by agreement.] For what does 
conquering, or being conquered, hurt or profit men's lives, manners, 
or dignities either? I see no good it does, but only adds unto their 
intolerable vainglory, who aim at such matters, and war for them, and 
lastly receive them as their labour's reward. . . . Take away vain- 
glory and what are men but men ?^ 

He remarks elsewhere on the futility of war, observing that one 
State will attack another 'and if it conquer, it extols itself and so 
becomes its own destruction . . . thus is the victory deadly; for it 
cannot keep a sovereignty for ever where it got a victory for once'. 
He points out that men desire an earthly peace and seek it through 
war, but even if they gain it (while still neglecting the City of God and 
eternal victory) 'misery must needs follow'. He returns to this theme 
in Chapter XII, Book XV. 

' St. Augustine, op. cit. Introduction, p.xliii. 
= Ibid. Chap. VIII. Book V. 
^ Ibid. 


. . . joy and peace are desired alike of all men. The warrior would but 
conquer: war's aim is nothing but glorious peace: what is victory but a 
suppression of resistants, which being done, peace follows? So that 
peace is war's purpose, the scope of all military discipline, and the 
limit at which all just contentions level. All men seek peace by war, but 
none seek war by peace. For they that perturb the peace they live in, 
do it not for hate of it, but to shew their power in alteration of it. 
They would not disannul it, but they would have it as they like; and 
though they break into seditions from the rest, yet must they hold a 
peaceful force with their fellows that are engaged with them, or else 
they shall never effect what they intend. Even the thieves themselves 
that molest all the world besides them, are at peace amongst themselves. 

If peace is thus desired by all, how much better is the universal 
peace which comes from God. 

St. Augustine has thus little encouragement to offer to the intending 
rebel. Nor has he more than spiritual consolation to offer to the slave. 
He supposes that slavery may be a punishment for sin but argues that 
there are worse fates than slavery. 

... it is a happier servitude to serve man than lust: for lust (to omit all 
the other passions) practises extreme tyranny upon the hearts of those 
that serve it, be it lust after sovereignty or fleshly lust. But in the peace- 
ful orders of states, wherein one man is under another, as humility does 
benefit the servant, so does pride endamage the superior. But take a 
man as God created him at first, and so he is neither slave to man nor 
to sin. But penal servitude had the institution from that law which 
commands the conservation, and forbids the disturbance of nature's 
order: for if that law had not first been transgressed, penal servitude 
had never been enjoined. 

Therefore the apostle warns servants to obey their masters and to 
serve them with cheerfulness, and good will: to the end that if they 
cannot be made free by their masters, they make their servitude a 
freedom to themselves, by serving them not in deceitful fear, but in 
faithful love, until iniquity be overpassed, and all men's power and 
principality dis-annulled and God only be all in all. 

Speaking thus as member of a formerly (and still potentially) 
persecuted minority, St. Augustine thus preaches a doctrine of non- 
resistance. The persecution is by God's will and for the benefit of 
those afflicted, whose compensation shall be in the life hereafter and 
whose immediate consolation may be in the thought that the perse- 
cutor is doing more harm to himself than to those he oppresses. But 
there is to this doctrine an important exception. It does not matter 
under whose rule a person may live 'so he be not compelled to acts of 
impiety or injustice'. But what if he isl St. Augustine does not ex- 
pressly enjoin resistance but the doctrinal loophole is there. For, 


granted that the behever should suffer death rather than commit an 
act of impiety, must he also resign himself to having his children 
brought up as pagans and so lost to salvation? The inference is that 
he may ultimately have to resist oppression in the name of Christ. 

But a far greater importance attaches to St. Augustine's advice to. 
the Christian who finds himself in power, with the force, the numbers 
and the law on his side. How is he to use his authority? First of all, 
he is (as we have seen) to serve those over whom he appears to rule. 
His responsibility is to be a burden rather than a privilege, more 
especially if he is Emperor. 

For we Christians do not say, that Christian emperors are happy, 
because they have a long reign, or die leaving their sons in quiet 
possession of their empires, or have been ever victorious, or powerful 
against all their opposers. These are but gifts and solaces of this 
laborious, joyless life; idolaters, and such as belong not to God (as 
these emperors do) may enjoy them. . . . But happy they are (say we) 
if they reign justly, free from being puffed up with the glossing exalta- 
tions of their attendance, or the cringes of their subjects, if they know 
themselves to be but men ... if their lusts be the lesser because they 
have the larger licence ... if they do all things, not for glory, but for 
charity, and with all, and before all, give God the due sacrifice of 
prayer, for their imperfections; such Christian emperors we call happy, 
here in hope, and hereafter, when the time we look for comes 
indeed. . . .^ 

Here we have a sketch of the ruler's character, his essential humility, 
but no suggested policy. A hint of what he is to do is contained, how- 
ever, in another passage, devoted to the example of the Christian 
martyrs, which concludes: — 

. . . the kings whose edicts afilicted the Church came humbly to be 
warriors under that banner which they cruelly before had sought 
utterly to abolish: beginning now to persecute the false gods, for 
whom before they had persecuted the servants of the true God." 

This is an historical statement and one we need not question. But 
St. Augustine does not blame the later persecution as he blames, or 
seems to blame, the first. 'Warriors' we may take in a metaphorical 
sense if we choose. But it is doubtful whether St. Augustine could 
consistently deplore any political pressure which would lead to 
conversions and to the baptism of those otherwise damned to all 

On the vital question of how the Christian ruler is to treat pagan or 
heretical subjects St. Augustine is not explicit. He is, on the other hand, 
emphatic on the question of how a Christian master should treat his 

' St. Augustine, op. cit. Chap. XV. Book V. 

■" St. Augustine, op. cit. Chap. XXXIX. Book XIV 


children and servants. Dealing with what he calls 'the just law of 
sovereignty', he explains^ that 'our righteous forefathers' did not 
treat their servants and their children alike in all respects, save in 
matters of religion. For religious purposes they were fathers of their 
households, servants and all. 

. . . But such as merit that name truly, do care that all their families 
should continue in the service of God, as if they were all their own 
children, desiring that they should all be placed in the household of 
heaven, where command is wholly unnecessary, because then they are 
past their charge, having attained immortality, which until they be 
installed in, the masters are to endure more labour in their govern- 
ment, than the servants in their service. If any be disobedient and 
offend this just peace, he is forthwith to be corrected, with strokes, or 
some other convenient punishment, whereby he may be re-engraffed 
into the peaceful stock from whence his disobedience has torn him. 
For as it is no good turn to help a man unto a smaller good by the loss 
of a greater: no more is it the part of innocence by pardoning a small 
offence, to let it grow unto a fouler. It is the duty of an innocent to 
hurt no man, but, withal, to curb sin in all he can, and to correct sin 
in whom he can, that the sinner's correction may be profitable to 
himself, and his example a terror unto others. Every family then being 
part of the city, every beginning having some relation unto some end, 
and every part tending to the integrity of the whole, it follows 
apparently, that the family's peace adheres unto the city's, that is the 
orderly command and obedience in the family has real reference to the 
orderly rule and subjection in the city. So that 'the father of the 
family' may fetch his instruction from the city's government, whereby 
he may proportionate the peace of his private estate, by that of the 

If we accept St. Augustine's comparison between family and state 
(or city), we may fairly assume that the relationship is not that of a 
one-sided imitation. If the father of a household is to copy the 
impartial sway of the town council, is not the ruler to regard himself 
as the father of his people? Should he not treat his subjects as the 
father is to treat his children? St. Augustine's ideal ruler is to regard 
his responsibility as a heavy burden, assumed reluctantly. This was 
no novelty as an idea — Indian Brahmans had the same conception 
and had it long before. But the Christian ruler, if he regards his 
subjects as his children, may, and in fact must, curb and correct sin in 
such fashion that 'the sinner's correction may be profitable to himself 
and his example a terror unto others' And what is sin ? Sin is and can 
only be the sort of action which Christ would have disapproved. The 
subject will fare ill, therefore, who differs from his bishop or ruler in 
his interpretation of Christ's teaching. And he will certainly fare 
worse if he rejects it altogether. 

' St. Augustine, op. cit. Chap. XVI. Book XV. 


As against the gods of pagan mythology, St. Augustine can afford 
to be only mildly severe. He regards them as devils rather than 
illusions. The stage-plays connected with their cult he regards as 
merely obscene. As for historians who contend that the world has 
existed for many thousands of years, they are talking nonsense; worse, 
they are talking heresy. Holy scripture gives the world a past history 
of six thousand years at most.^ But St. Augustine was not seriously 
worried about pagan beliefs, which he knew to be on the wane. The 
mischief was to begin when the Church should be confronted, not by 
a dying pagan mythology but by an active faith like Islam, as positive 
as Christianity in doctrine and almost as intolerant in practice. 
Towards such a heresy the Christian attitude is perfectly clear from 
the fifth century onwards. It is the argument outlined in The City of 
God and absorbed by such readers as Gregory the Great, Charle- 
magne, Peter Abelard and Dante. By this argument the secular State 
is necessary and ordained by God, even a bad ruler deserving obedi- 
ence. But the Christian ruler must seek the advice of the Church in 
matters of doctrine and ethics; for his is only a man, and not even a 
priest. The Christian prince must then, on ecclesiastical advice, curb 
sin and correct sinners for their own good. This may not seem an 
attractive programme to the reader of to-day. But it is the logical 
consequence of all that St. Augustine believed. Granted his original 
premise that all unbelievers are destined for eternal torment, it 
scarcely matters what means are used to save them. A little violence 
may surely be used to prevent a blind man going over a precipice. It 
is cruelty to spare the child punishment. It is worse cruelty to allow 
the heretic to corrupt others. Better, far better, is the chastisement 
which helps the sinner to repent. 

It would be possible to trace this central theme of theocratic 
government through the whole history of Medieval Europe. We could 
quote extensively from the trial of St. Joan to illustrate the inexorable 
logic of this doctrine. It is conveniently summed up, however, in the 
sentence pronounced by the judges, the Bishop and the Inquisitor; and 
again in the report sent afterwards to the Pope from the University 
of Paris. The sentence reads: 

... As often as the poisonous virus of heresy obstinately attaches 
itself to a member of the Church and transforms him into a limb of 
Satan, most diligent care must be taken to prevent the foul contagion 
of this pernicious leprosy from spreading .... The decrees of the holy 
Fathers have laid down that hardened heretics must be separated from 
the midst of the just, rather than permit such pernicious vipers to lodge 
in the bosom of Our Holy Mother Church, to the great peril of the 
rest. ... 

' St. Augustine, op. cit. Chap. X. Book XI. 


... we denounce you as a rotten member, which, so that you shall not 
infect the other members of Christ, must be cast out of the unity of 
the Church, cut off from her body, and given over to the secular 
power . . . [i.e. to be burnt alive]. ^ 

The letter agreed by the University of Paris, 'the light of all know- 
ledge and the extirpator of errors',' is more significant still. 

We believe, most Holy Father, that vigilant endeavours to prevent 
the contamination of the Holy Church by the poison of the errors of 
false prophets and evil men, are the more necessary since the end of 
the world appears to be at hand. 

... So when we see new prophets arise who boast of receiving revela- 
tions from God and the blessed of the triumphant land, when we see 
them announce to men the future and things passing the keenness of 
human thought, daring to accomplish new and unwonted acts, then it 
is fitting to our pastoral solicitude to set all our energies to prevent 
them from overwhelming the people, too eager to believe new things, 
by these strange doctrines, before the spirits which they claim to come 
from God have been confirmed. It would indeed be easy for these 
crafty and dangerous sowers of deceitful inventions to infect the 
Catholic people, if everyone, without the approbation and consent of 
our Holy Mother Church, were free to invent supernatural revelations 
at his own pleasure, and could usurp the authority of God, and His 
saints. Therefore, most Holy Father, the watchful diligence lately 
sTiown by the reverend father in Christ, the lord bishop of Beauvais 
and the vicar of the lord Inquisitor of Heretical Error, appointed by the 
apostolic Holy See to the kingdom of France, for the protection of the 
Christian religion, seems to us most commendable, 
[the letter describes the trial and execution]. 

. . . Wherefore it was clearly recognised by all how dangerous it was, 
how fearful, to give too light credence to the modern irventions which 
have for some time past been scattered in this most Christian kingdom, 
not by this woman only, but by many others also; and all the faithful 
of the Christian religion must be warned by such a sad example not to 
act so hastily after their own desires, but to listen to the teachings of the 
Church and the instruction of the prelates rather than the fables of 
superstitious women. For if we are at last through our own faults 
arrived at the point where witches falsely prophesying in God's name 
but without His authority, are better received by the frivolous people 
than pastors and doctors of the Church to whom Christ formerly said, 
'Go ye and teach the nations', the end is come, religion will perish, faith 
is in decay, the Church is trampled underfoot and the iniquity of 
Satan dominates the whole world. 

This fairly sums up the case for Theocracy; nor is it without sub- 
stance. To begin with, the statement that a general tendency to listen 

' The Trial of Jeanne d'Arc. Trans, and ed. by W. P. Barrett. London, 1931. pp. 

- Barrett, op. cit. p. 307. 


to individual thinkers rather than to the accepted doctrine would 
mean the end of the Church is manifestly true. That is exactly what 
happened, and more especially in France. It is true again that many of 
the 'modern inventions' were silly or even harmful. Nor can it be 
denied that reported miracles are likely to be investigated more 
competently by theologians than by ignorant peasants. As against 
that, there seems to many people, and indeed to many Christians, a 
certain divergence between the example given by Christ and the ex- 
ample made by his followers in the market place of Rouen in 1431. 
In concluding, as they did, that the end of the world was at hand, 
the doctors of the University of Paris were not far from the truth. The 
end of their world was indeed approaching. But it would be utterly 
wrong to assume that the history of European Theocracy ends with 
the Reformation. Religious persecution continued in its Protestant 
guise and indeed continues still. Its essence is still what it has always 
been; government in accordance with doctrines which those governed 
may not share. Charge III in the indictment of St. Joan read 'That this 
woman is apostate, for the hair which God gave her for a veil she has 
untimely cut off, and also, with the same design has rejected woman's 
dress and imitated the costume of men'. In the London of to-day it is 
natural for any intelligent person to wonder whether St. Joan's 
offence, on this particular charge, might not have been less than 
capital. But laws as fantastic are everywhere being enforced and 
supported by arguments which are just as absurd. To marry a second 
wife in England is as much an offence as to drink wine in Pakistan — 
or, at one time, in the United States. To buy a lottery ticket is per- 
fectly proper in a Muslim state but is illegal in the British colony 
adjacent. A Chinese gambling game is stopped by a British police 
officer who then goes on to play bridge at his Club. To smoke tobacco 
is innocent, to smoke opium is a crime. The book that is compulsory 
reading in one country is promptly seized and burnt in the next. All 
states are still theocratic in so far as their laws are based upon a 
revealed religion and not upon principles of reason. The extent to 
which this is so is shown by the divergence of the laws themselves. In 
so far as they are reasonable, they are mostly alike as between one 
State and another. In so far as they differ completely they are based on 
revealed religion. For the revelations of the divine will presented to 
mankind by those apparently inspired, while all impressive in their 
own way, have shown little resemblance to each other. 


The Theocracy of Commimism 

IF the political characteristics of Theocracy are to include a Founder, 
a Mythology, a Sacred Book, a Priesthood, a place of pilgrimage 
and an Inquisition, Communism must be ranked among the great 
religions of the world. There are some who will object that a religion 
implies a god. There is enough, perhaps, in this objection to justify 
allotting Communism a chapter to itself. There is not, clearly, reason 
sufficient to exclude it from the list of religions. For Buddhism was 
founded by a thinker who certainly believed in no god within the 
comprehension of his disciples. He might have believed in something 
akin to the Life Force as revered by George Bernard Shaw. But that 
did not prevent him founding a religion, with sects and heresies and 
biblical criticism. For lack of any god in which he believed, his 
followers simply made a god of him. There is therefore no reason to 
suppose that the deified Lenin will not be the god of Communism. 
For the atheist becoming a god there is ample precedent already. 

While, however. Communism would seem to be a nascent or actual 
religion, it is not a creed of great importance in the history of 
political thought; and this is due, in the main, to the circumstances of 
its origin. Karl Marx, founder of the creed, was born at Trier in 
Rhenish Prussia in 1818. The son of a Jewish lawyer who turned 
Protestant in 1824, he studied jurisprudence, history and philosophy 
at Bonn, graduating in 1841 after submitting his doctoral thesis on 
the philosophy of Epicurus. His revotutionary and atheistic ideas 
prevented him from becoming a lecturer at Bonn but allowed him to 
marry Jenny von Westphalen, sister of the Prussian Minister of the 
Interior. Marx then went to Paris where he became close friends with 
Frederick Engels. He was deported from France in 1845 and joined 
the Communist League in Belgium. He was in France again during 
the revolution of 1848 but then returned to Germany, where he edited 
a newspaper until banished again in 1849. He then took refuge in 
London and lived there until his death in 1883. Most of his writing 
was done after 1850 and in the reading room of the British Museum, 
Das Kapital being unfinished when he died. He and his wife lived in 
two rooms in Dean Street,^ where they had six children of whom three 

' This was not Marx's only address. Bv 1 88 1 he was living at 41, Maitland Park Road, 



(all daughters) survived. He lived upon an allowance of £350 a year 
from Engels, a legacy of £800 and an occasional sovereign for an 
article in the New York Tribune. Marx lived at his desk, knew little of 
practical affairs and less of the working class he sought to befriend. 
After thirty years in London he still lived among German exiles, 
knowing nothing about England or the English. He had all the single- 
minded purpose of a Hebrew prophet (which is what he was) and 
ruthlessly sacrificed his wife and family, friends and disciples. He had 
an abstract pity for the poor but his capacity for hatred was more 
obvious than his capacity for affection. 

So much biography is essential to fix the date and background of 
his work. Marxism may sound contemporary as a doctrine but Marx 
himself lived in the world of Dickens, Wellington and Queen Victoria. 
His was a background of top-hats, frock-coats and horse-drawn 
carriages. He lived long ago, making prophecies which, whether 
proved or disproved, are no longer predictions. Much has happened 
since his time, including two world wars and several industrial 
revolutions, the lengthening of human life by about ten years and the 
invention of contrivances which may well extinguish human society 
altogether; or, anyway, the civilisation of which Karl Marx was the 
rather bilious product. Much can be claimed for Marx as a thinker, 
a prophet, and a personality. But there is one thing which no one can 
claim. No one can now regard his ideas as new. 

His ideas are older even than the dates of his career would suggest. 
For he was not, in his Dean Street period, trying to discover the laws 
of economics. He had decided in advance what he was trying to prove. 
His views are already outlined in the Communist Manifesto of 1847-8, 
which he helped to compile.^ He began writing Das Kapital in 1867 
but to prove theories he had accepted in 1845 or earlier. Das Kapital 
remains the text-book of communist economic thought. There are, 
however, few other subjects in which the student is given a text-book 
begun in 1867 and embodying theories dating from 1845. Nor, 
incidentally, does Marx quite manage to achieve a scientific im- 
partiality. The violence of the sedentary philosopher breaks out when 
he interrupts his economic argument with words like these: 'The 
expropriation of the immediate producers was accomplished with 
merciless vandalism, and under the stimulus of passions the most 
infamous, the most sordid, the pettiest, the most meanly odious'. 
Surely a consistent materialist would have seen these sordid passions 
as mere obedience to the economic laws by which all are governed? 
And if we are to use words like 'infamous' about people who are 
'merciless', we must have some moral standards by which to judge 

' Social-Economic Movements. H. W. Laidler. London, 1948. (International Library 
of Sociology and Social Reconstruction). Chapter 14. pp. 130-144. 


them. But moral (that is, reUgious) standards are bourgeois ana- 
chronisms in which Marx could not possibly believe. 

Das Kapital is not, therefore, comparable with any scientific 
textbook. It has been called 'The Bible of the Working Man', an 
expression which gives a clue to its nature, it should rather be com- 
pared with the Bible, the Koran or the Analects. It is only religious 
texts that never go out of date. But if it is a religion that we have to 
study, we shall have to distinguish between the doctrine taught by 
the Founder and the Theology evolved since by his admirers. Thus we 
have, in Marxism, the Bible of Orthodoxy which none may contra- 
dict. We have the priests who preach on selected passages. We have 
the scholars who wrangle over the interpretation. We have all the 
early intolerance of Christianity and all the early fanaticism of 
Islam. There is an Inquisition to deal with heretics just as Christians 
have dealt with their own deviationists in the past. After this process 
the Marxism practised may have only a theoretical relationship to the 
original doctrine. The legends, literature, customs and ritual built up 
round the Founder's memory must always tend to obscure what he 
actually taught. 

Marxist doctrine, if we omit for the present what is not vital to 
the argument, centres upon the philosophy of dialectical materialism, 
the Marxist view of History and the Marxist doctrine of revolution. 
The materialist believes that the only world is that which we perceive 
with our senses and that our ideas are only a reflection of what we 
perceive. The idea of 'Dialectics' is borrowed frorn Darwin and 
applied by Marx to society. According to this theory nature and 
society are in the midst of a dynamic evolutionary development. 
This evolution is by a process of conflict, contradiction or struggle 
between two opposing forces or ideas; collision between which 
produces something different from either. Thus, Private Property 
(the Thesis) conflicts with the Proletariat (the Antithesis) to produce 
the Abolition of Property and Class (the Synthesis). This may not 
seem immediately helpful but it reminds us of one advantage that 
Marx had and which previous thinkers had lacked. The Origin of 
Species appeared in 1859 and Marx had read it. More than that, he 
grasped its implications. Whereas most theoretical writers had de- 
cided (like Plato) on an ideal organization of society, towards which 
men should strive, Marx realised that its organization could not be 
static. However originally fixed, it would evolve. What he was seeking 
to discover was not a final and frozen state of achievement but the 
laws which would govern the expected development. Marx was to 
that extent thinking on modern lines. 

To come now to the Marxist interpretation of history, Marx held 
that all ideological and political ideas are rooted in material or 


economic circumstances. The current moral and ethical ideas may be 
honestly held (and a few individuals may even preach, ineffectually, 
the opposite point of view) but they are based, in fact, on economic 
interests. It follows that all the conflicts recorded in history — what- 
ever their pretext — were conflicts over material wealth. In the words 
of the manifesto: 'The history of all known society, past and present, 
has been the history of class struggles'. This theory is pursued back to 
the Middle Ages when a dissatisfied merchant class used the idea of 
nationalism to lessen the power of nobility, church and Pope. The 
Reformation — to follow the argument — intensified the process; from 
which period the merchant class or bourgeoisie went on to abolish, 
or reduce to impotence, the monarchy as well. Politically secure, the 
bourgeoisie could then multiply its wealth by successive revolutions 
in agriculture, commerce and industry. The result is a Capitalist 
Society, defended by parliamentary rule. But the Capitalist Society 
has an inward tendency by which profits fall unless sustained by 
further mechanisation, by the exploitation of new markets or by a 
change in the scale of industry — the smaller capitalists being 
absorbed by the greater. So the rich become richer and fewer, the 
proletariat poorer and larger until the tyranny of the few becomes 
absurd. Revolution follows, as a result of which the proletariat 
seizes power. This sequence is inevitable and invariable and can end 
in no other way. The dictatorship of the proletariat is bound to come. 
There is substance in this argument as an analysis, from one point 
of view, of the history which Karl Marx had studied. We should, 
however, beware of concluding that any one scholarly interpretation 
of history is truer than any other. History can be looked at from a 
variety of angles — the political, the religious, the medical, the legal, 
the scientific and the cultural (to name no others) — and the difference 
between the resulting books lies in their authors' approach. Thus the 
same object can be viewed from different directions, from near at 
hand or from far away. It is needless to argue about the merits of the 
different viewpoints. They all give us an aspect of truth. No sensible 
historian will maintain that his point of view is the only one that 
matters. He may consider, however (and he probably will) that too 
few people have appreciated the merits of his viewpoint. He may also 
believe (and invariably does) that certain other historians are cross- 
eyed, colour-blind and afflicted with cataract in both eyes. He will 
sympathise with them publicly about their ailments and disabilities 
but he will not argue that their standpoint is an impossible one. The 
truth was there for them to see but it just so happened that they 
were — for all practical purposes — blind. Should a scholar write a 
history of civilisation solely in terms of plumbing, high explosives or 
venereal disease, we should not seek to belittle his work on that 


account. He has a right to his own point of view. In exactly the same 
way, any sane scholar will find much that is valuable in the economic 
interpretation of history. But when some enthusiastic person seizes 
upon this one aspect and flatly denies that there is any other, the 
historian will regard him as an amateur; a man who has read one 
book and found in it the whole truth of the universe. And an 
amateur is exactly what Karl Marx was. 

What else could he be? He spent, it is true, many years of study 
but during a period when there was all too little for him to read. We 
have seen that his major advantage, as a political thinker, lay in his 
knowledge of the theory of evolution. But we do not suppose that he 
(or Darwin for that matter) knew more than a fraction of what is 
known to-day. Biology, like Physics and Chemistry, has progressed 
rather dramatically since 1883; as most people probably realise. 
Fewer, perhaps, will realise that the study of History has progressed 
as much. Karl Marx could read Ranke, Treitschke, Guizot and 
Thiers, but the systematic study of history in England had hardly 
begun. In 1847, the date by which his main theory had been formed, 
Stubbs was aged 22 and Cunningham and Maitland were not yet born. 
Gardiner began to publish his History of the English Revolution in 
1863, Stubbs his Constitutional History in 1874. The first volume of 
Lecky's History of England in the \Sth Century appeared in 1878 and 
Cunningham's Growth of English Industry and Commerce in 1882. 
The English Historical Review published its first number in 1886 
(after Marx had died). Marx was also dead before F. W. Maitland had 
the Downing Chair at Cambridge, before Freeman took the Chair at 
Oxford and long before the publication of the History of English Law. 
The Oxford School of History was not even separated from that of 
Law until 1872, nor Sir J. R. Seeley appointed Regius Professor at 
Cambridge until 1869. 

History has progressed, in fact, since 1847 and progressed still 
more since the turn of the century. It has moved backwards into pre- 
history, forward into the events which have happened since Marx's 
death, outwards into Oriental and American fields hitherto uncharted 
and inwards into the history of science of which we have so far 
scarcely scratched the surface. Marx tries, in effect, to formulate a 
general rule from a single example. Whereas we have evidence of 
civilisations rising and falling over a period of some 30,000 years, 
Marx rests his economic theory on an analysis of about 500 years of 
one civiHsation; and his analysis ante-dates the very beginnings of 
economic history as a serious field of study. 

If Karl Marx based his prophecy on a too narrow range of facts, 
there is a fallacy implicit in the prophecy itself. This might be called 
the fallacy of the three Weird Sisters. They hailed Macbeth, it will be 


remembered, as Thane of Glamis, as Thane of Cawdor and as 
'King hereafter'. This last prediction had for Macbeth the credibiUty 
attaching to a third prophesy when two have proved correct. But the 
first told him nothing but what he and they and everyone knew. The 
second told him of something which had already taken place but of 
which they had prior information. The third prophecy has therefore 
to stand alone, a mere assertion, unsupported by any previously 
successful forecast. Marx argues that because a merchant class or 
aristocracy seizes power from a nobility, monarchy and church, it 
will diminish in size through the operation of economic laws until it 
becomes vulnerable to the lower-class revolt which he regards as 
inevitable. But this does not follow. For one thing, the tendency for 
industry to concentrate may be paralleled by the tendency of an 
aristocracy to disperse and so widen the governing class. For another 
thing, Marx does not allow for the eflfect of his own and other similar 
predictions. Whereas his admirers could agree to hasten the result 
which Marx thought in any case certain, his opponents might take 
steps to avert a result which they could regard as, at any rate, possible. 
Apart from that, we can now better assess the prophecy of 1847 in 
the light of all that has occurred since. There was good reason for 
expecting revolutions in 1847 and one such revolution actually took 
place. Tension afterwards lessened and the various Socialist groups 
(the First International, as their organisation has since been called) 
made little progress. In fact, those who upheld Marx's views had far 
more influence in 1848 than they were to have in 1860-80, a period of 
less potential disorder. The revolution which Marx expected to hap- 
pen in Germany seemed, in Bismark's time, extremely remote. The 
revolution which he would have liked to see in Britain was as im- 
probable but for a different reason. For most of the English Socialists 
turned out to be Methodists and similarly pious people to whom 
Materialism (and therefore Marxism) was merely irreligious. 

Marxism appealed mainly, in the end, to Russian revolutionaries. 
For these had something to work on; a discontented people, an 
intellectually worried and conscience-stricken aristocracy and an 
obsolete medieval form of government which no other European 
people could approve. Except in Russia, communism mostly died out, 
to be revived only after 1917. Russian communists mostly lived 
outside Russia and were widely tolerated, either because they were 
not taken seriously or because of the dislike felt for Tsarist Russia by 
all European liberals. The political principles upon which Tsarist 
government was founded were Autocracy, Nationality and Ortho- 
doxy. The political methods for which Russia was noted involved the 
constant use of secret police, spies, informers, torture and Siberian 
exile. There are said to have been 3,282 executions, after trial, be- 


tween 1906 and 1913. Neither these principles nor these methods 
appealed to Queen Victoria or Mr. Gladstone. They seemed then 
(they even seem now) essentially wrong. 

Russian revolutionaries had, therefore, secure bases in Europe 
from which to organise revolt in Russia. But what sort of government 
was to take the place of the one they meant to overthrow? It was on 
this subject that their holy scripture was least helpful. Karl Marx had 
very little to say about politics as such. He merely asserted that the 
proletariat, once in power and having no other class to rule and 
subdue, would find politics needless and the State itself unnecessary. 
Meanwhile, until the State 'withers away', there must presumably be 
government of some kind. Marx apparently envisaged his proletarian 
dictatorship as centring on a Commune or Communal Council, 
having both legislative and executive functions and based upon a 
universal franchise. It is clear that his proletariat will abolish all 
standing military forces, all offices that are not elective and all 
churches — or, anyway, all religious endowments. Negatively, the 
Marxist programme is fairly complete. We know little of Marx's 
more constructive ideas on the political side. As for the State 
'withering away', Marxist doctrine makes actual revolution essential 
to progress; and the military or semi-military leadership needed for 
a successful revolt seems, in practice, easier to introduce than to 
terminate. Apart from that, Marx had perhaps hardly understood the 
political implications of his own creed. For, granted that industrial 
combines would become larger and larger, as he said they would and 
as they did, the organisations built up could only be taken over 
(after the revolution) by the State. Marx was no machine-wrecker, no 
William Morris or G. K. Chesterton. He neither wanted nor expected 
to see the last capitalist hurled into the blazing ruins of the last factory. 
Granted, however, that the factories were to remain after the capi- 
talists had all been hanged, they would obviously be nationalised. 
And how could a State controlling whole industries be expected to 
'wither away'? And what would happen to the industries if it did? 

Karl Marx was not a fool and the clue to the absurdity of his 
political idealism lies mainly in the period from which it dates. To a 
man born at Trier in 1818, graduating at Bonn in 1841, the idea of 
industry on the modern scale was altogether alien. His was the back- 
ground of the Rhineland, the vineyards and the little German towns. 
It was easy for him to picture a revolution in which large capitalists — 
the biggest tradesmen in each town — were eliminated. It was easy 
for him to imagine, in his bucolic surroundings, how groups of 
peasants and workers could then run industries for themselves. Given 
the disappearance of war, foreign relations, church and king, no 
political functions would remain; none, at least, beyond the capacity 


of a socialistic town council. He hardly realised the implications of 
the railway; and the growth of industries as we know them did not 
begin until about 1870. Had he foreseen the scale of modern industry, 
he would not have assumed that the State could 'wither away'. He 
would have known that it would have economic functions even if it 
had no other. And he might, in that case, have paid a little more 
attention to the political aftermath of the revolution he wished to 
bring about. As it was, his political ideas scarcely progress beyond 
the lamp-post on which the last capitalist is to be hanged. From the 
moment when they overthrew the Tsar his Russian admirers had no 
further help from Marx. They were left to work out the problem for 
themselves and their solution was the simplest imaginable. They 
gave Russia almost exactly the same government as it had had before. 

This result was partly due to the character of the Russian Marxists 
and partly to the nature of the problem they were left to solve. Their 
party had grown up in conspiratorial fashion in an atmosphere of 
danger, suspicion and fear of betrayal. They developed the strict 
party discipline that was essential for safety. They developed a 
fanatical adherence to the word of Karl Marx, whose writings were 
as important to them as was the Talmud to the exiled Jews. Many 
of them, incidentally, were in fact Jewish, like Marx himself. They had 
a tendency, Jewish again, to quarrel over the exact interpretation of 
biblical texts. When the Tsarist government collapsed during the 
First World War, the small Communist Party was disciplined 
enough and quick enough to seize power during the disorders which 
followed. Their power was consolidated by external dangers against 
which a party leader could appeal to nationalist sentiment. The 
result was that their Autocracy (of the party chief), their Nationalism 
(as defenders of Russia) and their Orthodoxy (as Marxists) repro- 
duced the main principles, and encouraged them to adopt the same 
methods, as the government they had overturned. 

This is the more comprehensible when we remember that their 
problem was the same. Soviet Russia comprised, even in its early 
days, 8i million square miles, nearly ^th of the earth's surface; an 
area larger than the United States and China together. Distances 
ranged up to 5,000 miles from East to West, and almost 3,000 miles 
from North to South. The population was nearly 192,000,000 in 1939, 
comprising Russians, White Russians, Ukrainians, Armenians, 
Georgians, Jews, Turkemans, Mongolians, Germans and Finns, 
with some seventy languages spoken and taught. Most of these 
people were backward, illiterate, irresponsible and feckless. To 
govern a country so much larger than Europe or the United States is 
a formidable task. It could not, in any case, be governed in the same 
way as England or New Zealand. It must be a federation, to begin 


with, like the United States. But to maintain a unity among peoples 
so numerous, scattered, diverse and backward is the task for a god, 
not for a man. Such a federation can be held together only by the 
same means as adopted in ancient Egypt or China; by a State 
Religion, a Priesthood and a Deified Emperor. That was what Russia 
had before and it was what Russia was to have again. But even that 
would not suffice without bringing to bear upon the problem all the 
devotion of the Jesuits, all the fanaticism of Islam and all the cal- 
culated cruelty of the Tsarist police. All this too might fail without a 
continual foreign threat and pressure which has to be invented when 
it does not exist. ^ 

What has been called 'the dropping of the Utopian element in 
Marxism"' would have been inevitable in any Socialist State much 
larger than a village. In a country like Russia the idea of the State 
'withering away' could not last five minutes. So far from 'withering 
away' the State in Russia has become more powerful, more complex, 
more inescapable than in any other country in the world. The Consti- 
tution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (as amended in 
1947)'^ comprises 146 Articles, refers to sixteen different Republics, 
a Supreme Soviet with two Chambers, a Presidium with sixteen Vice- 
Presidents, Credentials Committees, a Council of Ministers, thirty- 
six all-Union Ministries, twenty-three Union-Republican Ministries, 
a Supreme Court, a Procurator-General, and the Soviets of territories, 
regions, autonomous regions, areas, districts, cities and rural locali- 
ties. As the Union-Republican central Ministries are all represented 
again by corresponding Ministries in each of the sixteen Republics, 
and as there are separate Ministries of Internal Affairs, State Control, 
State Security and Justice, there would seem to be fcvv signs of the 
'withering away' process as yet. The mind rather reels when con- 
fronted by the mere list of executive and legislative bodies. Elections 
are innumerable, the citizen taking part severally as an inhabitant, 
a producer, a consumer and possibly as a party-member as well. The 
whole structure is more elaborate even than that of the United 
States and with full rights guaranteed for everyone — freedom of 
speech, freedom of the press, freedom to vote, freedom of assembly 
and freedom of association. The suffrage is universal, eqiaal, direct 
and secret. The constitutional structure of the U.S.S.R. could not be 
more democratic in principle. It is perceptibly less democratic in 

When announcing the Constitution of 1936, Joseph Stalin is 

As Karl Marx wrote in 1853: 'There is only one way to deal with a Power like Russia, 
and that is the fearless way.' The Russian Menace to Europe. Ed. by P. W. Blackstock 
and B. F. Hoselity. Illinois, 1952. p. 269. 

- The Spirit of Post-war Russia. Rudolf Schlesinger. London, 1947. p. 180. 

'An Introduction to Russian History and Culture. Ivar Spector. New York, 1949. 
Appendix, p. 41 1. 


reported as saying 'I must admit the draft of a new Constitution really 
does leave in force the regime of the dictatorship of the working class, 
and also leaves unchanged the present leading position of the 
Communist party of the U.S.S.R.'^ We may take his word for it. But 
we must also be clear in our minds about what that 'leading position' 
amounts to. It was created, in the first instance, by Lenin, and ante- 
dates all the democratic machinery of government. When Bertrand 
Russell met Lenin in 1920, he found it difficult at first to see him as 
other than commonplace. 

I think if 1 had met him without knowing who he was, I should not 
have guessed that he was a great man; he struck me as too opinionated 
and narrowly orthodox. His strength comes, I imagine, from his 
honesty, courage, and unwavering faith — religious faith in the Marxian 
gospel, which takes the place of the Christian martyr's hopes of Para- 
dise, except that it is less egotistical. He has as little love of liberty as 
the Christians who suffered under Diocletian, and retaliated when they 
acquired power. Perhaps love of liberty is incompatible with whole- 
hearted belief in a panacea for all human ills.- 

Lenin's strength of character lay, no doubt, in the qualities which 
Bertrand Russell imagined him to possess. His political strength, 
however, lay in his firm refusal to take the easy way. From 1900 
onwards he must have been almost overwhelmingly tempted to accept 
whatever recruits that came. He refused instead to have any that he 
could not trust. As Sidney and Beatrice Webb pointed out: 

. . . Lenin had no use, within the Party, for mere sympathisers, for 
partially converted disciples, for adherents who based their acts on 
Christianity or a general humanitarianism, or on any other theory of 
social life than Marxism, nor even for those whose interpretation of 
Marxism differed from his own. . . . For the instrument of revolution 
that he was forging he needed ... a completely united, highly dis- 
ciplined and relatively small body of 'professional revolutionists', who 
should not only have a common creed and a common programme but 
should also undertake to give their whole lives to a single end. . . . The 
creation of such a body was no easy task. In interminable controversies 
between 1900 and 1916, we watch Lenin driving off successively all 
whom he could not persuade to accept his model; all whom he con- 
sidered compromisers or temporisers; opportunists or reformists; 
half-converted sympathisers who clung to one or other form of mysti- 
cism for which Karl Marx had found no place. . . .^ 

When the Russian Revolution took place, the party members 
numbered only 30,000 but these were all picked, indoctrinated, 

' Laidler. op. cil. p. 423. 

" The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism. Bertrand Russell. London, 1920. p. 37. 
' Soviet Communism: A new civilisation. By Sidney and Beatrice Webb. 2 vols. 
London, 1937. Vol. I. pp. 341-342. 


tested and reliable. And it was, of course, Lenin's exclusion of vaguely 
left-wing idealists which made Communism a rehgion, incompatible 
with any other. Membership from the beginning implied rigid 
orthodoxy, implicit obedience, austerity of life and willingness to 
face hard work, hardship and danger. 

The Communist who sincerely believes the party creed is convinced 
that private property is the root of all evil ; he is so certain of this that 
he shrinks from no measures, however harsh, which seem necessary for 
constructing and preserving the Communist State. He spares himself 
as little as he spares others. He works sixteen hours a day, and foregoes 
his Saturday half-holiday. He volunteers for any difficult or dangerous 
work which needs to be done. . . . The same motives, however, which 
make him austere make him also ruthless. Marx has taught that 
Communism is fatally predestined to come about; this fits in with the 
Oriental traits in the Russian character, and produces a state of mind 
not unlike that of the early successors of Mahomet. Opposition is 
crushed without mercy. . . .^ 

Party membership is attractive, therefore, to the young and 
fanatical, to the austere and ardent, to those with a sense of mission. 
It does not attract everybody and of those it does attract many are 
rejected at the outset, rejected during probation or 'purged' at some 
later stage. During the period 1922-27 from 16,000 to 25,000 members 
were expelled each year, for slackness, dishonesty, drunkenness or 
similar offences.' Numbers, therefore, have mounted only slowly. 
There were fewer than half a million members in 1920 and only two 
and a half million in 1939. If there were four and a half million in 
1942, the membership would have been just over two per cent of the 
population. Party members are said to have numbered 6,300,000 in 
1947 but the percentage remains low and the policy has always been 
to keep the membership exclusive. Parallel with the official assemblies, 
the Party has its own organisation, with local Committees, an AU- 
Union Congress, a Central Committee and a Political Bureau 
(Politburo) which has been the most important governing body in 
Russia. The Secretary-General of the Party was, for many years, 
Joseph Stalin, and this was, for most of that time, the only office 
he held. 

The relationship between Party and State has been defined by 
Stalin in these words: 

... In the Soviet Union, in the land where the dictatorship of the 
proletariat is in force, no important political or organizational 
problem is ever decided by our Soviets and other mass organizations, 
without directives from our Party. In this sense, we may say that the 

' Bertrand Russell, op. cit. p. 27. 

- Sidney and Beatrice Webb. op. cit. Vol. 1. p. 375. 


dictatorship of the proletariat is substantially the dictatorship of the 
Party, as the force which effectively guides the proletariat.^ 

This admission and the known fact that the vast majority of 
Ministers, Deputies and Officials are in fact Party members, taking 
their orders from the Party, justifies us in classifying this form of 
government as a Theocracy. It has sometimes been held that it is, 
rather, a Dictatorship. As against that, Sidney and Beatrice Webb 
concluded, after careful investigation, that it is not. 

We have given particular attention to this point, collecting all the 
available evidence, and noting carefully the inferences to be drawn 
from the experience of the past eight years (1926-1934). We do not 
think that the Party is governed by the will of a single person; or that 
Stalin is the sort of person to claim or desire such a position. He has 
himself very explicitly denied any such personal dictatorship in terms 
which, whether or not he is credited with sincerity, certainly accord 
with our own impression of the facts.- 

There can be no doubt that Stalin's power was greater during the 
Second World War but the same would be true of Churchill or 
Roosevelt. Before that war, Stalin surely exercised something far 
short of dictatorial powers. But if we have little reason for concluding 
that he was a dictator, we have ample evidence for concluding that 
he was a god. We are told that, when Lenin died: 

. . . His remains were interred in a dark-red granite mausoleum in the 
Red Square of Moscow, which is backed by the Kremlin wall. Three- 
quarters of a million people waited in line to view his remains for an 
average of five hours in an arctic cold of 30 degrees below zero before 
they were able to take their turn in passing through the hall where he 
lay in state. ^ 

It is with reference to this deification of Lenin that the Webbs 
were able to explain how Stalin in turn became a god. It was, they 
explained, because the party leaders deliberately exploited the 
traditional Russian reverence for a personal autocrat. 

. . . This was seen in the popular elevation of Lenin, notably after his 
death, to the status of saint or prophet, virtually canonised in the 
sleeping figure in the sombre mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square, 
where he is now, to all intents and purposes worshipped by the adoring 
millions of workers and peasants who daily pass before him. Lenin's 
works have become 'Holy Writ', which may be interpreted, but which 
it is impermissible to confute. After Lenin's death, it was agreed that 
his place could never be filled. But some new personality had to be 

^Leninism. By J. Stalin. VoL L 1928. p. 33. QLioted in Soviet Communism: a new 
civilisation. By Sidney and Beatrice Webb. London, 1937. 2nd ed. Vol. L pp. 430-431. 
- Sidney and Beatrice Webb. op. cit. Vol. L p. 432. 
' Laidier. op. cit. p. 393. 


produced for the hundred and sixty miUions to revere. There presently 
ensued a tacit understanding among the junta that Stalin should be 
'boosted' as the supreme leader of the proletariat, the Party, and the 
state. His portrait and his bust were accordingly distributed by tens 
of thousands, and they are now everywhere publicly displayed along 
with those of Marx and Lenin. ^ 

As a potential god, Stalin (the atheist) had a useful qualification in 
the training he had received in the Theological Seminary of Tiflis. 
He at least must have understood what was required of him as the 
third person of a Trinity in which Marx was God and Lenin, Christ. 
And the first thing expected of him was a proper reverence for the 
gods senior to him. 

At the next Congress of the Soviets after Lenin's death, Stalin 
chanted his sacred vow in the name of the revolution: 'Departing 
from us. Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the duty of preserving and 
strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat. We swear to thee. 
Comrade Lenin, that we will not spare our energies in also fulfilling 
with honor this thy commandment !'- 

Lenin had himself ridiculed and detested all religion as 'the 
thousand-year-old enemy of culture and progress', but Stalin now 
invoked his name in what amounts to a public prayer. He addressed 
the dead man as if he were still there in spirit. But nothing he could 
say about the dead Lenin could surpass what was soon being said 
about himself, reaching a crescendo of adulation on his seventieth 
birthday in 1949. And one thing apparent from all that was said is 
that deification actually lessens the power of the person deified. This 
was true of the god-kings of Egypt and it remains true to-day. The 
deified king is imprisoned by his own legend, restricted by the ritual 
of his own cult. The other thing apparent is that the king is deified 
by his subjects' wish, not by his own. Lenin would hardly have 
accepted worship in his lifetime but he was powerless to save his dead 
body from the adoration of the naturally religious. As for Stalin, he 
accepted his role with something like complacence. Deification begins 
with good publicity. 

. . . The same heroic pictures of Stalin appeared in Moscow, Prague, 
and Peiping. Always the image of the Leader was sublimely glorified. 
Edgar Snow says he counted Stalin's name fifty-seven times in one 
four-page issue of a Moscow daily even at the height of the paper 
shortage in World War IL In 1950, with paper more plentiful, one issue 
oi Pravda mentioned Stalin 91 times on the front page alone; 35 times 
as Josef Vissarinovich Stalin; 33 times as Comrade Stalin; 10 times as 
Great Leader; 7 times as Dear and Beloved Stalin: and 6 times as Great 
Stalin. The Yugoslav newspaper which did this bit of research into the 

> S. and B. Webb. op. cit. p. 438. 

' Communism, Democracy and Catholic Power. Paul Blanshard. London, 1952. p. 70. 


processes of deification also recorded the fact that Stalin is commonly 
described elsewhere in the Soviet press as Great Leader of Mankind; 
Great Chief of All Workers; Protagonist of Our Victories; and Faith- 
ful Fighter for the Cause of Peace. ^ 

Stalin's fiftieth birthday in 1929 called forth a series of epithets 
comparable with those applied to earlier Asian kings (see p. 135). 
Among these may be quoted the following: The greatest military 
leader of all times and nations, Lenin's Perpetuator in Creating the 
Theory of the Construction of Socialism, The Theoretician and 
Leader of the Fight for Peace and Brotherhood among the Peoples, 
the Military Genius of our Time, Mirrored in the Literature of the 
Peoples of the World, Teacher and Inspired Leader of the World 
Proletariat, Coryphaeus of World Science, Theoretician and Initiator 
of the Transformation of Nature in the U.S.S.R., the People's 
Happiness, Brilliant thinker and scholar. 

Paul Blanshard has also been at pains to collect certain other 
literary references to Stalin which are as significant in their own way. 

Father! What could be nearer and dearer than that name? 

Multiform is the all-compassing power of Stalin's genius. Not a single 
field of the creative endeavors of the Soviet people but has been 
illumined by the rays of his intellect which has pointed the way to the 
new summit of achievement. 

The shoots of all that is new, progressive, beautiful and exalted in our 
life reach out to Stalin as to the sun. Stalin inspires our people and 
gives them wings. Stalin's words, Stalin's kindness and solicitude are a 
source of life-giving strength to millions.'^ 

He quotes a poem written by Mikhail Isakovsky which reads, as 
translated: — 

He has brought us strength and glory 

And youth for ages to come. 

The flush of a beautiful dawning 

Across our heaven is flung. 

So let us lift up our voices 

To him who is most beloved. 

A song to the sun and to justice, 

A song that to Stalin is sung.^ 

Another poem reads: — 

O Great Stalin, O leader of the peoples. 
Thou who broughtest man to birth, 
Thou who purifiest the earth. 
Thou who makest bloom the spring, 

> Blanshard. op. cit. p. 71. 
= Ibid. p. 73. 
^ Ibid. p. 74. 


Thou who makest vibrate the musical chords, 
Thou splendor of my spring, O Thou 
Sun reflected of millions of hearts.^ 

After reading or chanting such poems as these, the next and logical 
step for the communist was to make pilgrimage to the Kremlin and walk 
where Stalin has trod. 'Let us fall on our knees and kiss those holy 

Hysteria apart, there is great significance in the themes which 
underlie these outpourings. The important words are Father, Sun, 
Rays, life-giving strength, spring; these and the various references to 
fertility. When words like these are used we are fairly back in the 
world of Pharaoh, Osiris and the Golden Bough. 

The implications of this godhead are immediate. A certain stability 
has been gained but the actual king-priest is crippled and mummified. 
He cannot take any active part in war, partly because the people will 
not let him (see page 36) and partly because he dare not risk the 
consequences. What if a reverse follows his visit to the scene of 
operations? What if he is made to look like an amateur beside some 
general? What if he trips over some wire and falls into a shell-hole? 
No, the battlefield is ruled out for the Military Genius of our Time. 
So long as he stays at home, defeats can be blamed on the generals in 
the field, who have been disobedient or (more probably) treacherous. 
But most other activities are ruled out for the same sort of reason. He 
dare not mount a horse in case he should fall off. He dare not shoot 
in case he should miss. He dare not paint a picture in case someone 
else's should seem better. He dare not visit another country in case 
he should be made to seem less important than its ruler. He dare 
play no game in case he should lose. There is scarcely anything he can 
do except work behind closed doors, preside over councils, execute 
any possible rival, appear dramatically on infrequent state occasions, 
make oracular speeches and wait for the embalming and the glass 
case which is the final fate of a god. In a Theocracy, as the King 
becomes mummified, it is the priests who tend to rule. 

It would be possible to quote from a thousand books in praise of 
Communism. They should be classified, however, as theology rather 
than as political thought. For just as St. Augustine's theory rests on 
the assumption that Jesus is the Son of God, from which all else 
follows, so Marxist theory rests on the assumption that Karl Marx is 
God, Lenin his prophet and the current Ruler his infallible inter- 
preter. Granted these axioms, there is room to discuss how Lenin 
would have solved a particular problem, or even what Marx meant in 
some passage more than usually obscure. But discussion on these lines 

1 Ibid. p. 74. 
^ Ibid. p. 75. 


is uninteresting to those who deny the axioms upon which all else 
depends. Those, however, to whom the Marxist axioms are least 
acceptable must consider that Communism, as a religion, has at 
least provided an answer to the practical problem of ruling China. 
There are many, no doubt, who would prefer to see Russia and 
China ruled on very different lines. These should recall that a Russia 
ruled in western democratic fashion would not be Russia. It would 
fall into as many fragments as did Europe when the Roman Empire 
collapsed. Such a disintegration would be a relief to many other 
peoples but we cannot expect the Russians to welcome it. They 
would be vulnerable to external dangers of which they have had 
considerable experience. 

While it would be rash to assert that Russia, within its present 
boundaries and with its present peoples, could not be governed except 
theocratically, it is at least fair to say that no previous example exists 
of such an area being governed in any other way. Nor has the theo- 
cratic element been absent from governments with a far simpler 
problem to solve. The New England Puritans, a minority of 'Saints' 
among a greater number of 'strangers', had all the deep convictions, 
all the austerity, all the devotion and all the intolerance of the modern 
communist. They left a permanent influence on America and even 
upon people to whom their virtues now seem least attractive. It would 
surelybe wrong to deny that there is anything of value in the idea of a 
chosen minority undergoing an arduous training, assuming special 
and onerous responsibilities, foregoing any material reward and 
devoting their lives to a chosen faith. Would it not be equally wrong 
to question the right of the majority to accept the leadership of these 
few? For there is little evidence to show that the majority in Russia is 
averse to being led. There are democrats who will assert the infalli- 
bility of the people but only so long as it is democracy that the people 
choose. There is much in this attitude of the very intolerance which 
the democrat is eager to condemn in others. That the Russians and 
Chinese will evolve in time a system of government different from the 
type they now regard as orthodox is tolerably certain. That it will 
resemble that of Britain or the United States is most improbable. It 
would be odd indeed if the same answer were to prove correct for 
problems in their nature so entirely different. 




The Origins of Democracy 

IN commenting upon the course of history, St. Augustine is shrewd 
enough to suggest (as did Sallust before him) that the Athenians 
exceeded other people more in their publicity than in their deeds. ^ 
Most subsequent scholars have been more credulous, one result being 
a surprisingly widespread belief that the Athenians were the inventors 
of democracy. That they were nothing of the kind is tolerably clear. 
What we owe to the Athenians is not the thing itself or even its name 
but the earliest detailed account of how a democracy came into being, 
flourished and collapsed. Of the Indian democracies, which were 
probably older, we have all too little precise information. There is, 
however, a sense in which many people have had a measure of 
democracy in their village life. Of China it has been said: — 

The family, the clan, the guild and the unorganised gentry play the 
leading part in rural and urban self-government; but . . . there is an 
endless variety of groups and associations organised on a free and 
voluntary basis for an endless variety of social ends and purposes 
which make China a vast self-governed and law-abiding society, 
costing practically nothing to maintain.- 

There was likewise a great measure of democratic activity in 
ancient India, considerable powers being left to families, clans, 
village communities and guilds. The Russians also had their mir or 
village community, their artel or crat^t guild; the former being an 
assembly of the peasants, the latter of workers in the towns. The 
Anglo-Saxon folk-moot had its parallel in Vedic India. ^ It would be 
difficult, therefore, to decide in what country democracy first 
appeared. Nor would it be much easier to find the oldest republic. 
The choice would lie perhaps between various states of northern 
India. These were presumably monarchies at an earlier period, as 
some were to remain, but some were republican from about 500 B.C. 
or even earlier. One people, the Lichchhavis, with their capital at 
Vaisali, were republicans before the time of Cleisthenes and perhaps 

' The City of God. John Healey. Trans. Reprinted, London, 1931. Chap. II. Book 

^ Democracies of the East. R. Mukerjee. London, 1923. 

' Indian culture through the ages. S. V. Venkateswara. London, 1932. In two vols. 
Vol. II. Puh/lc Life and Political Institutions, p. 24. 



even earlier than Draco.' They were ruled, it is said, by an assembly 
numbering 7,707. These enfranchised citizens may have been only 
about one in twenty of the total population but the 20,000 voters of 
Athens were only perhaps one in eighteen. The honour and support 
which the Lichchhavis gave to their greatest contemporary, Gautama 
(or the Buddha), contrasts favourably, one might add, with the hem- 
lock which the Athenians prescribed for Socrates. And if the Lichch- 
havis had their untouchables, the Athenians had their slaves. There 
were other republics in the Punjab and the Indus valley, especially 
between 500 B.C. and a.d. 400. They offered, some of them, a stout 
resistance to Alexander's army. There is even mention of three 
republics forming a federation in the vicinity of Delhi." There was 
nothing comparable to this in southern India, it appears, but there 
the local government among the Tamils was more highly developed 
and on even more democratic lines, with a public assembly electing 
the village council. 

While it might prove impossible to decide when and where democ- 
racy first appeared, it is somewhat easier to discover how. For such 
facts as are known point clearly to its being normally a development 
of aristocracy. We learn, for example, that all the voters of Vaisali 
were called 'Raja' just as all modern British taxpayers are addressed 
by the Board of Inland Revenue as 'Esquire'. The enfranchised 
Lichchhavis recognised, in fact, no class distinction among them- 
selves 'everyone thinking that he was the Raja'."' it was that same 
equality and voting procedure which was copied by the Buddhist 
monasteries, and it is at least an interesting speculation to wonder 
whether some of the same ideas passed via western monasticism into 
modern democratic practice. Whatever the truth may be about that, 
it is evidently the tendency for an aristocracy to lose its powers by 
diffusion and dilution. The process is essentially biological, closely 
resembling the earlier process by which monarchy itself declines, if 
the essence of aristocracy is noble descent, all children of noble 
parentage are equally what the Indians would call Kshalriyas or 
warriors. They must become more numerous in each generation. Nor 
can they all be wealthy. In time, moreover, they cannot all even be 
soldiers. The Kshalriyas, for example, of the Indian republics 'fol- 
lowed trade and commerce' as well as arms.^ Once this stage has been 
reached, democracy is in sight. This process is termed 'timocracy' 
by Plato. ^ 

The process of diffusion, as noble blood becomes more common, is 

' Hindu Civilization. R. K. Mookerji. Bombay 1950. pp. 203-207. 

^ State and Government in Ancient India. A. S. Altekar. Benares, 1949. pp. 78-79. 

' R. K. Mookerji. op. cit. p. 205. 

" Altekar. op. cit. p. 75. 

' Greek Political Theory. Sir Ernest Barker. 4th ed. London, 1951. pp. 251-2. 


matched by the simultaneous process of dilution; a process which the 
Indian caste system was carefully designed to prevent. In lands with 
a less rigid system of class distinction, it was always difficult, in 
practice, to exclude from the upper class a growing number of the 
skilled, the able or the dangerous. Knightly rank has always been won 
on the battlefield and can scarcely be denied to the merchant whose 
travels may bring him into comparable peril. And if the merchant 
wears the sword, the lawyer sent on embassy deserves no less. But no 
trader or professional man can deny a measure of respect to his 
customers or clients. He who sells can claim no superiority over those 
who buy. When in doubt, he will prefer to call the stranger 'Sir' or 
'Lord'. That his customers are all 'ladies and gentlemen' is the proof 
in fact of his success. There is thus a tendency in most languages for 
the word 'gentleman' to become meaningless, being applied eventually 
to all above the status of peasant, or to all perhaps not actually slaves. 
The assumption of 'gentle' rank by so large a number is not in- 
consistent with the claim by a minority to a still higher status. But the 
claim becomes difficult to sustain as against others whose birth, 
education, military prowess and wealth is not perceptibly inferior. 
Such a claim, if persisted in, may end in middle-class revolt. If, on the 
other hand, the claim is tacitly dropped, a democratic equality has 
been practically achieved. Historically, the tendency has been for the 
privileged class to split, the more snobbish provoking by their conduct 
a revolt with which the less snobbish are openly sympathetic (not 
without advantage to themselves). The French Revolution of 1789 
provides us with a classic example of this process. Had none of the 
aristocrats believed in aristocracy the rising would never have begun. 
Had they all believed in aristocracy, it might have been easily sup- 
pressed. As it was, some were unpopular, more were undecided and 
a few were openly on the side of the unprivileged. The same situation 
existed in Britain during the period 1900-1920. The aristocracy was 
too uncertain of itself to make any spectacular stand against the 
quiet revolution which was taking place. Many sought to escape the 
unpopularity which a few had earned. There emerged the Mirabeau 
type, the Etonian socialist. None dared uphold the principle of 
aristocracy as such save in the most evasive term. The collapse of 
aristocracy was further hastened by two other factors which may well 
have been important at similar periods of transition in the past. One 
factor was the failure to breed, common among the politically un- 
certain. The other was the incidence of war casualties, falling most 
heavily upon the limited class from which future leaders might other- 
wise have been drawn. The British aristocracy went down before the 
revolution of 1 9 1 4- 1 8, victims of a conflict in which generals lost their 
reputation while subalterns lost their lives. The survivors of a war in 


which the dangers had been experienced by all alike could do nothing 
but talk about the virtues of democracy. Death duties finished what 
machine guns had begun. 

To study in any detail the process by which aristocracy turns into 
democracy, we must turn first to Athens and Rome. And one feature 
of European democracy, as seen in classical times and as contrasting 
with the democracies of the East, is the emergence of the individual. 
The Oriental attitude to this phenomenon has been well expressed 
by Professor Radhakamal Mukerjee: — 

The realisation of right had been from the first a social function; but 
its enforcement was incumbent on the unit groups of individuals 
(families, clans, tribes, village communities or guilds bound together 
by friendship). The acquisition by the State of supreme and unlimited 
power and jurisdiction over society and its economic, social and cul- 
tural interests has been a gradual but inevitable development in the 
West; and this apotheosis of the State has given a wrong trend to 
civilisation. In China and India, the rules of conduct evolved by the 
unit groups of individuals still constitute the communal code, while 
the rules of morality form a second code, set above the communal law 
and embodying a larger aggregate of duties. The two together embrace 
the whole field of life; and much that falls to State or government in 
the West to further public welfare by means of the creation and 
administration of law is left to myriad local groups and assemblies in 
the communalistic polity. Unregulated individualism and absolute 
State authority go together. . . .^ 

What was novel, in fact, about the republic of Athens was not its 
democracy as such but its emphasis on the individual rather than on 
the group. Once the individual citizen becomes the imit, divorced 
from his clan or trade guild or village, he is immeasurably weakened 
in his relationship with the State. And the State is correspondingly 
strengthened as group loyalties disappear. 

Athens was ruled at first, like other States, by a god-descended 
king. But whereas at Rome the king was dethroned by an aristocratic 
revolution, at Athens the monarchy was gradually and quietly re- 
placed-. First we hear of the king's successor being chosen from among 
members of the royal family. Next we hear of a General and a Judge 
(both of royal blood) appointed to assist the king. Then the office of 
judge or Archon is thrown open to men of noble family (c. 725 B.C.), 
the period of office being reduced from ten years to one. The appear- 
ance of the Council of Nine, and the Areopogus or Council of the 
'Eupatridae', marks the aristocratic control which existed during the 
later days of the monarchy. By 683 B.C. Athens was an aristocratic 

' Democracies of the East. R. Mukerjee. London, 1923. pp. 78-79. 

- The City-State of the Greeks and Romans. W. Warde- Fowler. Ed. of 1931. 


Thus the constitutional frame in which the city-state was built was 
aristocracy. With settled life personal leadership had given place to the 
steady influence of a class. Overseas this class was sometimes the 
original settlers who kept political power in their own hands. In Greece 
proper long-established wealth or pride of birth, displayed in the keep- 
ing of horses or the membership of aristocratic clans, had shown itself 
too in the service of the state. As the king had dwindled, so the old 
assembly of freemen disappeared or counted for little. The state was 
the possession of those who had the freedom to serve it. . . .^ 

But aristocracy had no very firm basis among the Greeks. It had no 
strong religious sanction, the Greeks not being, by Eastern standards, 
a very religious people. It had no monopoly of learning, for the 
Greeks, taking their civilisation from Asia (and being the first Euro- 
pean people to experience it), had adopted the simple phonetic 
alphabet of the Phoenicians. It had no monopoly of wealth, for the 
Greeks were seafarers and traders, living in a rather poor land. It had 
no basis in luxury for the Greek tastes were simple; nor in leisure, for 
most Greeks seem to have had that. It had, above all, no basis in 
horsemanship for horses, though used, played a relatively small part 
in Greek life. Greece (apart from Thessaly) had neither the pasture 
on which horses could graze nor the terrain in which cavalry could 
operate. It has been pointed out, moreover, that the horses which 
are represented in the Parthenon frieze are little larger than ponies. 
No iron shoes were used before the second century B.C. and Greece 
is a stony land. Unshod, without saddle or stirrups, the horses of the 
breed represented in these carvings could have been of no use in the 
charge.- Aristotle himself remarks that the upper class in Thessaly 
could subdue the rabble. That this was untrue in Athens is one reason 
why the aristocratic phase there was relatively brief. It lasted, in fact, 
from about 750 B.C. until about 600 B.C. The framework of democracy, 
created by Solon (Archon in 594 B.C.) and perfected by Cleisthenes 
(c. 525 B.C.), lasted until about 338 B.C. 

The essential point in the reforms of Solon and Cleisthenes was the 
abolition of the clans. Democracy in the Greek sense was incom- 
patible with communal organisation or with the continued influence 
of the areopogus.^ The constitution, after the citizens had been re- 
organised into ten new 'demes' or townships of non-tribal character, 
can be regarded as a bold experiment in direct and representative 
democracy. By the time of Pericles, sovereignty lay in the Ecclesia, 
the assembly of free citizens of military age, numbering perhaps 
20,000 in theory, paid for their attendance, and meeting at least forty 

' The Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. III. p. 700. (Chapter XXVI, Professor F. E. 

- The Economics of Ancient Greece. H. Michell. Cambridge, 1940. 

' Its powers were mostly abolished in 462 b.c. See The Greek Citv and its Institutions. 
G. Glotz. London, 1950. p. 125. 


times a year.^ Executive power was delegated, however, to the Council 
of Five Hundred elected annually by the Ecclesia, meeting every five 
days and sitting fifty at a time. This Council delegated much of its 
power in turn to Committees. These Committees dealt with Justice, 
War, Finance, Education, Religion, Dockyards and Accounts. 
Members of the more important Committees (War, Finance etc.) 
were elected from the Council in office. Those serving on the less 
important Committees were chosen by lot. Total committee member- 
ship came to 1,200-1,400 all told, so that everyone would have his 
turn in office. Courts of Law were equally democratic in character, 
each comprising 500 members of the Ecclesia sitting as a kind of jury .'- 

The citizens with full political rights thus numbered 20,000 at 
most out of a total population of over 320,000. No voting rights were 
accorded to women, minors,' aliens or slaves. Nor would such a 
system have been even possible without slavery, to provide the 
citizens with leisure, or tribute (drawn from the subject cities of the 
Athenian League) to provide the voters with their pay. But when all 
these limitations have been conceded, it remains true that it was as 
real a democracy as has ever, perhaps, existed. It was government by 
the many and involved the active and direct participation of as many 
people as was practicable. More than that, the defects of Athenian 
democracy were democratic defects, arising not from the restriction 
of the suffrage but from its breadth. There is every reason, in fact, for 
concluding that a wider franchise would have made them not better 
but worse. 

What were these defects? The first was inherent in a system which 
gave equal political rights to the rich and the poor. It is true that the 
Athenian 'poor' excluded most of those whom we should describe as 
the working class; for these were slaves. But there were citizens quite 
poor enough to envy the wealth of the others. Nor did their com- 
parative poverty make them less politically active in a state where 
political service was paid. Their natural instinct was to tax or fine the 
rich out of existence. The reaction of the more prosperous was to 
form societies for mutual protection and political reform. These 
activities were, or could be regarded as treasonable, and the result 
was a series of prosecutions of the wealthy between 410 and 405 B.C. 
Those not actually prosecuted were blackmailed with the threat of 
prosecution. Many, like Euripides and Agathon, ffed to Macedonia. 

' Actual attendance was very much less. At the only division for which we have 
exact figures, 3,616 men voted. There may have been 5,000-6,000 present on more 
important occasions. See A. Zimmern, The Greek Commonwealth. Oxford. Ed. of 1952. 
p. 169. 

^ See Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. V, p. 98 et seq. (Chap. IV) and A. Zimmern, 
op. cit. p. 175. 

' Voters had to be over 20 years of age, making their possible number about 20,000. 
But by the end of the Peloponnesian War it was practically impossible to collect even 
5,000. See Zimmern, op. cit. p. 169. 


Alcibiades fled to Thrace. The Athenian Courts of Law proved an 
ideal mechanism for pursuing these feuds as the people were sitting 
in judgment on what might be their own cause; the confiscation of 
property. The active treason of the wealthy was an important factor 
in the defeat of Athens in 405 B.C. 

The second major defect lay in the division of the spoils. Public 
funds were spent in the payment of an enormous civil service, with 
large numbers of people thus taken from productive work. The 
precise statistics here are in dispute and it is a question whether a 
half or merely a third of the citizens were in public employment. 
There seem, at any rate, to have been 20,000 so employed in the fifth 
century B.C. This total admittedly included 6,000 soldiers and sailors; 
and the 6,000 paid jurors might of course be regarded as old-age 
pensioners or unemployed. Still, with all allowances made, the officials 
were fairly numerous. They included some 2,850 policemen, 700 
home civil servants, perhaps 300 in the colonial service,^ 500 members 
of Council and over 3,000 subordinate officials, benefactors, retired 
athletes and orphans. There are many, no doubt, who would regard 
full employment, in this sense, as a merit rather than a defect. It was 
essentially dependent, however, on a revenue from overseas acquired 
by anything but democratic means. This revenue apart, it was simply 
a living on capital, a fundamentally unstable process. Public servants 
could not, of course, be dismissed as redundant, they and their 
friends being voters. 

The third major defect lay in external aff'airs. Athens could not have 
lasted for long in any case after the rise of Macedonia but it remains 
roughly true to say that the Athenians were most successful between 
466 and 428 B.C. when ruled, in practice, by Pericles, and far less 
successful during later periods of more typically democratic rule. 
Thucydides is emphatic about this: 

Pericles, powerful from dignity of character as well as from wisdom, 
and conspicuously above the least tinge of corruption, held back the 
people with a free hand, and was their real leader instead of being led 
by them. For not being a seeker of power from unworthy sources, he 
did not speak with any view to present favour, but had sufficient sense 
of dignity to contradict them on occasion, even braving their dis- 
pleasure. . . . But those who succeeded after his death, being more 
equal one with another, and each of them desiring pre-eminence over 
the rest, adopted the diff"erent course of courting the favour of the 
people and sacrificing to that object even important state-interests." 

' These were not 'career' civil servants but elected amateur officials, serving for a 
limited period of office. The number given does not include the slaves in public owner- 
ship who formed the more permanent element in the establishment; nor the Scythian 
archers who were employed to keep order. 

^ Thiicvclicks II, 65 quoted in A History of Greece by G. Grote in ten volumes. 
London," 1888. Vol. V. p. 95. 


What is particularly interesting is that the Athenian failures and 
mistakes were in precisely the fields of activity in which later democ- 
racies have also tended to fail; that is to say, in colonial policy, 
foreign policy and war. 

There is, of course, a basic anomaly in a democratic state having 
colonies at all. The Athenian legend had been built up round the 
story of Greek resistance to Persian imperialism. The obvious and 
expected fate of the Greek cities was to be conquered severally by the 
nearest centralised monarchy of any size; and indeed this eventually 
happened. During their period, however, of independence, the 
Athenians based their reputation upon the epic stories of Marathon 
and Salamis. The Athenian Empire began as an alliance of free cities 
against the threat of imperialism. From about 472 B.C. its character 
began to change and in 454 B.C. the treasury of the federation was 
removed from Delos to Athens. Throughout the period, in fact, of 
aristocratic leadership from 466 to 428 B.C., the allied cities gradually 
became colonial territories; subject to Athens, their champion against 
Persia. Under aristocratic rule, the Athenians might justify their own 
imperialism or at least find excuses for it. The paternal authority they 
had accepted for themselves they might logically recommend to 
others. But when, from about 429 B.C., their rule became more purely 
democratic — a rule of the people, for the people and by the people — 
no possible excuse remained for denying to others the complete 
freedom they claimed for themselves. Of the ethics of the situation the 
Athenians were fully aware, but they would not forego the advantages 
of their imperial position. More than that, they enforced their rule 
with a cynical ferocity which should always be remembered in dis- 
cussing the merits of the Athenian experiment. 

Two examples of Athenian imperialism are particularly worthy of 
note, both dating from the period immediately following the death of 
Pericles. It was in 428 e.c. that news came to Athens of the impending 
desertion of the tributary city of Mitylene — the rulers of which state 
desired the independence which they in turn denied to Antissa, 
Eresus and Pyrrha. The Athenians blockaded and besieged Mitylene 
and finally brought about its surrender. There followed that astonish- 
ing debate in which Cleon, the leather-seller, procured a popular 
decision to massacre the entire Mytalenaean population of military 
age. Orders were sent to carry out this decree but the debate was 
resumed on the following day. Defending the decision taken against 
a plea for mercy put forward by Diodotus, Cleon called for justice: 

. . . warning the assembly that the imperial necessities of Athens 
essentially required the constant maintenance of a sentiment of fear in 
the minds of unwilling subjects, and that they must prepare to see their 
empire pass away if they suflFered themselves to be guided either by 


compassion for those who, if victors, would have no compassion on 
them — or by unreasonable moderation towards those who would 
neither feel nor requite it — or by the mere impression of seductive 

On this occasion the moderate party won, another ship being sent 
to overtake the first, bearing a cancellation of the previous decree. 
But even counsels of moderation involved killing over a thousand 
prisoners in cold blood — instead of the six thousand as at first decided 
upon. The cruelty involved is less striking, perhaps, than the argu- 
ment of political expediency put forward to justify it. 

An example made of Mytilene, the Athenians then discovered, 
with Cleon's help, that they could themselves avoid war-taxes simply 
by doubling the amount of the tribute payable under treaty by the 
subject cities. This increase was announced in 425, a demand being 
also sent to the neutral island of Melos, the inhabitants of which had 
never entered the Athenian Empire at all. They refused to pay but it 
was not until 416 B.C. that the Athenians had the forces to spare with 
which to coerce them. In that year an expedition was sent, bearing a 
demand for the arrears. The Athenian envoys are said by Thucydides 
to have been perfectly candid about their motives. 

We shall not trouble you with specious pretences, either of how we 
have a right to our Empire because we overthrew the Persians, or are 
now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us. You 
know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question 
between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the 
weak suffer what they must.- 

The men of Melos were not prepared to submit. They told the 
Athenians that the gods would favour the cause of the just. To this 
the men of Athens replied as candidly as before: 

When you speak of the favour of the gods we may as fairly hope for 
that as you, neither our pretensions nor our conduct being in any way 
contrary to what men believe of the gods, or practise among them- 
selves. Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary 
law of their nature they rule wherever they can. It is not as if we were 
the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made. We found it in 
the world before us, and shall leave it in the world after us; all we do is 
to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the 
same power as we have, would do the same as we do. Thus, so far as 
the gods are concerned, we have no fear at all.^ 

Melos finally surrendered after a siege lasting some months. The 
Athenians put to death all the grown men and sold all the women 

' Grote. op. cit. pp. 169-172. 

- The Greek Commonwealth. A Zimmern. Oxford, 1952. p. 441. 

^ Zimmern. op. cit. pp. 442-443. 


and children as slaves. Six months later an Athenian fleet and army 
was sent to conquer Sicily and failed disastrously. By 412 B.C. most 
of the Athenian Empire was in revolt. 

In foreign policy the Athenians of this same period committed at 
least one outstanding crime and one outstanding blunder. At the 
time of the battle of Marathon the state of Athens had had as its sole 
ally the city of Plataea. When this was besieged by the Peloponnesians, 
the men of Plataea sent to Athens for help. Assistance was promised in 
accordance with the existing and old-standing alliance but none was 
sent. Plataea held out for two years but had then to surrender. 
What remained of the garrison amounted to 225 men, and these 
were all put to death. ^ Plataea was only thirty miles from Athens 
and could have been relieved without much difficulty. But there 
seemed to be no advantage to be gained by doing so. And the forces 
which might have saved Plataea in 427 b.c. were actually deployed 
against Mytilene. Athenian friendship was even more dangerous than 
Athenian hostility. But the betrayal of Plataea was matched in folly, 
though not in crime, by the rejection of the Spartan offer of peace in 
425 B.C. It was made at a moment when the Athenians were in a strong 
position. The Spartan envoys were allowed to address the Athenian 
Assembly and then withdrew. Persuaded by Cleon, the people 
decided upon impossibly harsh terms. These were communicated to 
the envoys publicly. Nor were they refused. The envoys merely asked 
to discuss the terms with commissioners appointed to negotiate. 
Cleon then said that this proposal proved the dishonesty of their 
intentions. If they had anything to say, let it be said openly before the 
assembly. This was agreed with acclamation. 

The Lacedaemonians, seeing that whatever concessions they might 
be prepared to make in their humiliation it was impossible for them to 
speak before the multitude and lose credit with their allies for a 
negotiation in which they might after all miscarry, and, on the other 
hand, that the Athenians would never grant what they asked for upon 
moderate terms, returned home from Athens with their mission un- 

It should suffice to say that the Athenians were never to have as 
favourable an opportunity offered them again. 

Lastly, there is the failure in war. Noteworthy in this connection 
are two events of differing importance but each significant in its own 
way. The first was the attempt to surprise Mitylene. The plan was to 
attack the city at the time of a religious festival during which the entire 
population would have gone to worship at the temple of Apollo 
Maloeis, leaving their walls deserted. But this plan had to be dis- 

' Grote. op. cit. pp. 179-184. Vol. V. 
^ Zimmern. op. cit. pp. 438-439. 


cussed in the public assembly, allowing ample time for information 
to reach the Mitylenaeans, who promptly cancelled the festival and 
prepared to defend themselves. The second event was the surprising 
result of the debate in which, following the dismissal of the Spartan 
envoys, the politician Cleon urged the vigorous prosecution of the 
war. In doing so he said or implied that he would have done better 
than the generals were doing. He was instantly challenged to take the 
command himself. While his political opponents joined in the cry, 
expecting a failure which would ruin him, his friends took up the 
challenge on his behalf and urged him to try his hand. 

Friends as well as enemies thus concurred to impose upon Cleon a 
compulsion not to be eluded. Of all the parties here concerned, those 
whose conduct is the most unpardonably disgraceful are Nicias and 
his oligarchal supporters, who force a political enemy into the supreme 
command against his own strenuous protest, persuaded that he will 
fail, so as to compromise the .lives of many soldiers, and the destinies 
of the state on an important emergency, but satisfying themselves with 
the idea that they shall bring him to disgrace and ruin.^ 

In point of fact, Cleon won and returned to Athens in triumph. It 
was a success more fatal, however, than any defeat could have been, 
for it encouraged him to assume the command again when the 
situation was less favourable and so led to the disaster at Amphipolis, 
largely attributable to Cleon's inexperience and panic. 

What is most significant about this affair is not the defeat of Athens 
but the extent to which its internal politics could jeopardise its 
security. When party feeling runs so high that a commander comes to 
be appointed through the influence of those who hope for his defeat, 
the prospects of the campaign are poor indeed. It is true that the 
decline of the Athenian Empire was due to many factors unconnected 
with the Athenian form of government. Neither Lycurgus nor 
Demetrius of Phalerum could have restored Athenian hegemony even 
had they tried. But the fact remains that the Athenian experiment 
revealed where democracy is likely to fail. It proved that the voters of 
an imperialist state may pay little heed to the welfare of their subject 
peoples. It tended to prove that the voters may prove unmindful of 
any obligations or aUiances concluded by their predecessors but 
since found to be inconvenient. It also seemed to suggest that the 
party struggles within a democratic state may confuse its mihtary 
effort. It would have been rash to conclude then as it would be to 
agree now that every democratic state is bound to commit exactly 
these mistakes. Still less should we forget that states ruled on quite 
opposite principles have come to grief for different reasons — or even 
for the same reasons. But we may be justified in thinking that these 

' Grote. op. cit. \o\. V. p. 256. 


are the errors to which a democracy is most exposed. They may be 
avoided perhaps but we need at least to know that they are there. 

The Athenian experiment in democracy is the more worthy of 
study in that its results were confirmed, to some extent, in the 
histories of the other Greek City States; cities about which less is 
known. The process by which aristocracy turns into democracy was 
repeated in Corinth, Thourioi, Naxos and Cyrene.^ The struggle, the 
class war, between the more and the less prosperous citizens was at 
least a common feature in these other cities. At Miletus in 630 B.C. 
there were two parties, called respectively 'The Wealthy' and 'The 
Handworkers'." At Cyrene five hundred of the wealthy were executed 
in the course of the revolution of 401 B.C. Such revolutions were fairly 
common, although by no means invariable, and usually (not always) 
led to a counter-revolution at some later date. It was the resulting 
variety in forms of rule which afforded the Greek theorists their 
opportunity for comparison — a better opportunity perhaps than any 
thinker has had since. Nor was it wasted. The scholars of the Lyceum 
in Athens were able to collect and compare the constitutions of a 
hundred and fifty-eight cities. They had seen many democracies in 
their rise, their fulfilment, their decay and their collapse. They felt 
more ready to generalise than do modern theorists whose experience 
is so much less. And what do they conclude? 

A democracy then, as I imagine, arises when the poor, prevailing 
over the rich, kill some and banish others, and share the places in the 
republic and the magistracies equally among the remainder. . . .^ 

Plato goes on to describe how democracy may turn into anarchy, 
the magistrates losing their authority over the people and the elders 
losing their authority over the young. 

Just as if ... a father should accustom himself to resemble a child 
and to be afraid of his sons, and the son . . . neither to revere nor to 
stand in awe of his parents, that so indeed he may be free. . . . The 
teacher in such a city fears and flatters the scholars and the scholars 
despise their teachers. . . . And in general the youth resemble the more 
advanced in years, and rival it with them both in words and deeds: and 
the old men sitting down with the young, are full of merriment and 
pleasantry, mimicking the youth, that they may not appear to be 
morose and despotic. 

Plato continues from there to show how employers lose control of 
their slaves and husbands of their wives until finally even the 
domestic animals claim their independence. 

1 Greek City-Stales. Kathleen Freeman. London, 1950. 

' K. Freeman, op. cit. p. 140. 

^ The Republic of Plato. Trans, by H. Spans. Everyman, 1927. (Eighth Book), p. 270. 


. . . For readily even the puppies, according to the proverb, resemble 
their mistresses; and the horses and asses are accustomed to go freely 
and gracefully, marching up against any one they meet on the road 
unless he give way. . . .^ 

Aristotle generalises as boldly from an even wider experience. 

Liberty, he says, is the first principle of democracy. 'The results of 

liberty are that the numerical majority is supreme, and that each man 

lives as he likes. '^ Democracy, he realises, will lead to a demand that 

all should have equal possessions as well as equal rights (Book II). 

For the real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty 

and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they 

be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a 

democracy. . . ^ 

He returns to the theme in Book VI : 

. . . Every citizen, it is said, must have equality, and therefore in a 
democracy the poor have more power than the rich, because there are 
more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.* 

What the will of the majority is likely to be, in at least one respect, 
Aristotle very well knows: \ 

. . . Democrats say that justice is that to which the majority agree ... if 
justice is the will of the majority . . . they will unjustly confiscate the 
property of the wealthy minority.^ 

Some would deny that such a confiscation is unjust. But the rights 
and wrongs are not to our present purpose. What is significant is that 
Aristotle, having carefully collated the political experience of a wide 
variety of Greek City States, is able to assure us that Athens was not 
exceptional. Democracy was tried repeatedly, in different places and 
for differing periods of time, and if any one conclusion can be reached 
from a study of the results it is that democracy will lead, sooner or 
later, to socialism. 

■ Plato, op. cit. p. 278. 

^ Aristotle's Politics. Trans, by Benjamin Jowett. Oxford, 1931. Analysis, p. 19. 

' Aristotle, op. cit. Book III. p. 116. 

^ Ibid. p. 239. 

"Ibid. p. 241. 


Democracy at Rome 

THE democratic phase in Roman history is so brief that a cursory 
treatment of Roman pohtical institutions is apt to give the 
impression that Rome passed directly from aristocracy to Dictator- 
ship and Empire. This is not quite true. Rome passed through the 
same stages as Athens had done but with a different emphasis in point 
of time. Rome presented a far bigger problem than Athens had ever 
done; bigger in area and in population. So that there could be far less 
pretence of collecting a representative gathering of the people. Nor, 
had this been done, would it have been easy for any one speaker to 
address them. Nevertheless, the Roman constitution was basically 
that of a Greek city, with democratic assemblies playing a theo- 
retically important part. When the Roman aristocracy began to lose 
grip, the attempt to make Rome a democracy was facilitated by the 
existence of institutions and laws which had only to be revived. 

The aristocratic governance of Rome rested, in its later period, 
upon the concrete success of the second Punic War. But the two 
parties, the exclusive and the excluded, were in existence and the 
prestige of the former tended to decline, more especially during the 
third Macedonian war. It could be argued that the ruling class had 
been corrupted by wealth. 

Opposed to the rule of such an oligarchy were many of the dispos- 
sessed, who longed for economic security; many of the plain citizens, 
who longed for an efficient and civil government; the more ambitious 
members of the rising Equestrian Order, who longed for political 
power; and such aristocrats as had fallen on evil times, or were for 
some reason or other at variance with those in power, and longed for 

When their power and the title to it were challenged, the ruling 
oligarchy, perhaps with complacent self-praise, or in an attempt to give 
their social and political supremacy an air of moral superiority, were 
pleased to consider and call themselves Optimates. . . } 

Leader of the Populares, as the opposition party was called, was 
Tiberius Gracchus, Tribune in 133 B.C. He tried to revive the practice 
of bringing legislation before the popular assembly without submit- 

' Libertas as a political idea at Rome during the late Republic and early Prinripate. 
Ch. Wirszubski. Cambridge, 1950. p. 39. 



ting it to Senate. He succeeded for the moment by rather questionable 
means but was killed soon afterwards in a faction fight. The demo- 
cratic party, inactive for nine years, was revived by Gaius Gracchus, 
a revolutionary intent on avenging his brother's death. Securing 
election as Tribune in 124 B.C., he reUed for his power upon the 
populace of Rome. Perhaps his most significant piece of legislation 
was the Lex Frumentaria under which corn was bought by the State 
and sold to the citizens at less than the market price. ^ This first law 
of the kind fell short of the Athenian direct payment to voters but led 
to further and similar bids for popular favour, ending in the logical 
outcome of 58 B.C. when Clodius made the distribution entirely free. 
Socialist measures of this kind could be financed only from two 
sources; taxation of the wealthy or taxation of the Empire. Gaius 
Gracchus chose the latter method. His brother had chosen the former, 
passing (or rather reviving) a law which allowed the State to con- 
fiscate land owned by individuals in excess of a fixed maximum acre- 
age, and redistribute it among the landless. Land had been in fact 
confiscated, at a low compensation, under this law. Gaius now 
altered the system of taxation in the wealthiest of the Roman provinces, 
that of Asia. Hitherto the provincials had paid moderate taxes, 
raising them themselves. 

This system was now abolished: extensive direct and indirect taxes 
were imposed, and the usual method of collecting them through tax- 
farmers was adopted as in Sicily and Sardinia with this important 
distinction — instead of being put up to auction in the provinces, as was 
done in these two cases, so that the contracts were often undertaken 
by provincial companies, it was enacted that the taxes of the whole 
province should be leased at Rome, so that the provincials themselves 
were practically excluded. The general result was that Asia became the 
scene of most scandalous extortion. . . . - 

The democratic movement thus included some of the main 
features of Athenian democracy. Nor was it altogether resisted by 
the aristocrats, for these had split, in normal fashion, the Optimates 
being opposed when most reactionary by a group of moderates — an 
aristocratic party which centred at one time on the younger Scipio. 
Weakened by disunity among themselves, the Senators watched the 
process by which political sovereignty was transferred from the 
Senate to the Comitia. Gracchus had managed to unite against the 
aristocracy the wealthier citizens of other than noble birth and the 
poor citizens now living, in part, at the public expense. While this 
alliance held, the democratic group could continue to rule Rome. It 
became the object of the Senatorial party to split the coalition, which 

' The Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. IX, 1932. pp. 59, 165 and 524. 
- A Constitutional and Political History of Rome from the earliest times to the reign 
of Domitian. T. M. Taylor. London, 1899. p. 256. 


Livius Drusus did by the simple means of outbidding Gracchus in 
generosity at the Treasury's expense. Gracchus failed to secure 
re-election in 121 B.C. and was killed in the riots which were now a 
feature of these political contests. For a time there was an uneasy 
balance of power, accompanied by serious military disaster in 
Numidia; a capitulation due at least in part to the absence of the 
Consul, Spurius Albinus, in Rome at the time of the elections. 
Shortly afterwards a successful general of the Senatorial party was 
recalled as a result of democratic pressure. Worse was to follow in 
105 B.C. when a costly defeat, with 80,000 casualties, was attributed to 
the mutual hostility of two generals, one aristocratic and the other 
not. The democratic party reached its peak of success in 100 B.C. 
when the popular leader Saturninus was in alliance with the general, 
Marius. It must then have seemed inevitable that Rome should 
become and for long remain a democracy. 

If the establishment of a persistently democratic form of rule 
seemed probable then, it would equally seem now, in retrospect, that 
all the elements needed were present. The Republican aristocracy 
had lost all special claim to respect. The trade expansion which had 
followed the Punic Wars and the revenues since drawn from Sicily, 
Spain, Macedonia and Africa had opened a vast field for political 
corruption. What had been an aristocracy had become an oligarchy, 
with direct or indirect financial interests in tax-farming, banking and 
contracting. The middle class, the peasant soldiers of an earlier 
period, had mostly vanished; partly as a result of war casualties and 
partly through the ruin of soldiers exiled by war from their land. The 
landless citizens who flocked into Rome formed an idle and demoral- 
ised urban population of voters. In 104 B.C. the Tribune Philippus 
thus declared that there were not 2,000 landowners in the citizen 
body — which then numbered 394,000, mostly proletarians. Mixed 
farming had declined, land being devoted more to olives, vineyards 
and garden-produce. Food was mostly imported and distributed at 
below cost price. The populace was led by professional politicians of 
obscure birth and the oligarchs had been compelled to retreat from one 
position to another until little remained of their prestige and less of 
their effective power. 

Why did no fairly permanent democracy result? The main 
obstacle to the establishment of a democratic form of government 
lay in the mere size of the problem. The Athenians were relatively few 
and could make some pretence of assembling a representative body 
of citizens to conduct public business on democratic lines. But the 
practical difficulty (and doubtful wisdom) of assembling the citizens 
of Rome was manifest. The eventual result could only be chaos, as 
the more responsible citizens could see for themselves. Even, however, 


if the practical problems were solved, the decisions reached would not 
be democratic in any real sense of the word. The vote did not extend 
to the rest of Italy, still less to the Roman Empire as a whole. Nor 
could it be extended more widely against the opposition of those 
already voting. The decisions made would nevertheless affect a vast 
and growing territory — countries which the Roman voters had never 
seen and could not, perhaps, have even found on the map. There 
was far less moral basis for a democracy in Rome than there had been 
for democracy in Athens. In the most careful analysis, it did not even 
make sense. 

The only possible means of establishing anything like a real 
democracy would have been to extend citizenship to the empire and 
devise some means of representation of the provincial interests at 
Rome. As a result of the revolt called 'The Social War', an attempt 
was in fact made to extend the franchise. The Lex Julia and Lex 
Plantia Papiria (of about 90 B.C.) extended the franchise widely in 
Italy but there was little danger of the newly enrolled citizens (who 
brought the total to 910,000) appearing in great numbers to exercise 
their rights. Nor does it seem that any system of representation was 
ever seriously discussed. The practical difficulty then (as now) of 
reforming an electoral system is that those actually in power are 
usually well satisfied with the process which brought them into office. 
Those in opposition are more disposed to be critical but only so long 
as they are powerless. So little was done and Rome steadily pro- 
gressed towards anarchy, an interesting feature of which was the 
debasement of the currency as a means of financing the continuance 
of the dole. 

From about 99 B.C. there began a reaction against democracy, 
supported clearly by a body of moderate opinion. The political 
struggle fluctuated but the Consul Sulla was able, with the use of 
force, to restore the power of the Senate. In doing so, he had some of 
the democratic leaders put to death. He then strengthened the Senate 
by the addition of another 300 members and enacted a law under 
which no measure could be brought before the Comitia without the 
Senate's prior consent. The democratic experiment was almost at an 
end. It did not end completely, however, until 82 B.C. when Sulla, 
returning to Rome from the East, defeated the democrats at the 
Colline Gate — not, however, before they had massacred the leaders 
of the Optimates. Sulla, who was extremely able but not personally 
ambitious, set about the task of restoring the republic. He was ap- 
pointed Dictator and was perhaps the first to hold that office by name 
in its modern sense. 

The first chapter of Sulla's rule opened with the most awful incident 
in the history of Rome. In virtue of his unlimited power he outlawed 


all who had fought under the flag of the Democratic party, except 
those who had submitted to him on his return; their lives were for- 
feited, their property confiscated and sold, their descendants debarred 
from all political preferment. This general proclamation was soon 
replaced by a formal list of those to be despatched; it contained 
4,700 names. . . .^ 

The democrats thus eliminated, at least for the time being, Sulla 
restored to the Senate all and more than all its previous powers. 

The authority and power of the Senate were increased at the cost of 
the tribunes and the popular assembly. All the rights it had enjoyed 
before the legislation of the Gracchi were now restored to it. To Sulla 
it was obvious that the Senate could, and the rabble of Rome could not, 
govern a world-wide state. . . .- 

What may have been obvious then is less obvious to us now. For a 
Senate in which all leaders, on either side, had been killed, and in 
which all that remained were in fear of the same fate was not, in 
practice, a very effective body of men. Sulla nevertheless relinquished 
his dictatorship in 79 B.C., apparently expecting the Republic to take 
on a new lease of life. It did not do that and indeed it barely survived 
Sulla's death in the following year. 

Whatever Sulla's precept may have been, his example had mainly 
served to demonstrate with what ease a successful general might 
become dictator. Nor did Senate prove able to cope even with a 
revival of the democrats. As Heitland says: 

The death of Sulla ushers in the final period of revolution, the period 
in which the Roman Republic, deprived of its master, proved that it 
could not do without one.^ 

The period from 78 to 59 B.C. saw the rise of new generals under the 
uncertain rule of the restored oligarchy. Two events of the greatest 
political significance were the Catilinian conspiracy and the election 
of Julius Caesar as Pontifex Maximus. The conspiracy of Catiline, 
had it succeeded, would have led to a general and virtually anarchist 
attack on property, accompanied by a massacre of the wealthy. It 
was foiled but in such a way as to reveal the government's essential 
weakness. The attempt to rule an Empire through the political mach- 
inery of a Greek City State was coming to an end.^ And the election 
of Julius Caesar as Pontiff or Chief Priest was a hint of the sort of 
rule which was destined to take its place. Only a divine ruler could 

' T. M. Taylor, op. cit. p. 295. 

^ A History of the Ancient World. M. Rostovtzeff. Vol. II. Trans, by J. D. Duff. 
Oxford, 1928. p. 125. 

' The Roman Republic. W. E. Heitland. Cambridge, 1923. Vol. III. p. 1. 

* See The Roman Revolution. R. Syme. Oxford, 1939. See also The Roman Middle 
Class in the Republican Period. H. Hill. Oxford, 1952. 


effectively control the territories wiiich the Republic had conquered. 
The Republic, if weakened by its occasional military failures, was 
essentially killed by its own military success. 

That a successful general should make himself ruler, to the intense 
relief of all but the fanatics, was inevitable. The Roman constitution 
provided no executive body and no permanent officials. It provided 
no administration comparable with that of Egypt, Persia or China. 
It lacked, above all, the focus which could be given only by a deified 
head. And what is particularly interesting is the early date by which 
this last need was perceived by one who was in a posititon to supply 

Julius Caesar belonged to a family, to begin with, of divine descent. 
He could and did claim Aeneas of Troy as his ancestor, and Aeneas 
was the son of Venus. He also claimed a descent from the Alban 
kings, and they in turn were descendants of Mars. 'The connection 
with Venus was always emphasized more than the less well authen- 
ticated descent from Mars\^ Public mention was made of this claim 
as early as 68 B.C. Then came his election as Pontiff, as heir therefore 
to nearly all the religious functions of the old Roman kings. Familiar 
as he was through his military life with Asia, Cilicia and Bithynia, he 
knew all about the oriental conception of monarchy. Anything he 
did not know about its practical application he learnt later on in 
Egypt. Caesar's first Consulship began in 59 B.C. By 44 B.C. he had 
been elected Dictator for life. What his political programme would 
have been had he lived long enough to fulfil it, we are not to know. 
What we do know is the fact of his virtual deification. It centred, 
first of all, on the temple of Venus Genetrix — on Venus considered as 
mother of the Julian house. This was built in the Forum and Caesar's 
statue was erected in front of it. Nor was this all. A further statue of 
him in the temple of Quirinus was set up in 45 B.C. with the inscrip- 
tion 'To the unconquered god'. In the following year he was given the 
title of 'parens patriae'. 

In the other honors we find Caesar not so much of the father of the 
Roman state as the heir of the Hellenistic kings. His birthday was made 
a festival on which public sacrifices should be made; it was provided 
that annual sacrifices for his safety should be undertaken and that each 
year the magistrates should swear to uphold his acts. Games to be 
celebrated in his honor every four years were decreed and a day in his 
name was added to each of the great festivals of Rome. ... It was 
voted to build a temple to Concordia Nova because it was through him 
that men enjoyed peace and concord. The name of the month Quinc- 
tilis was changed to Julius. . . . But the final step came when the senate 
decreed him to be a god and commanded the erection of a temple to 

' The Divinily of the Roman Emperor. L. R. Taylor. Connecticut .1931. p. 59. 


him and his Cleiiieiitia, thus formally providing for his enshrinement 
in state cult. . . .^ 

Caesar's death at the hands of enraged republicans led only to the 
eventual installation of his nephew in the place that he had come to 
occupy. What is more significant, perhaps, about this succession was 
that Augustus, relinquishing all claim to be Dictator and preferring 
to be called Princeps or First Citizen, was careful to uphold his 
uncle's divinity and later, in due course, to assert his own. It was the 
religious aspect of Julius Caesar's position that he chose to inherit. 

It was a mere ninety years from the first assertion of democracy in 
Rome to the time when Julius Caesar was installed not merely as 
dictator but as god. Within that short space occurred all the demo- 
cratic movements from that led by Tiberius Gracchus to that led by 
Catiline. In the process we can trace how oligarchy at Rome turned 
into democracy, how democracy involved class-war and socialist 
revolution, how class-war led to chaos and how dictatorship resulted 
in turn from that. The process at Rome was unusually rapid. Most 
rapid of all, however, was the process by which thedictator was made 
a deified king. The change from a republican austerity to a deified 
kingship was well within the space of fifteen years. Nor was it the 
corruption of an institution that had been good in itself. It was, 
rather, the only way out of a situation that had become intolerable. 

' L. R. Taylor, op. cit. p. 67. 


Democracy justified by Religion 

THE rule of the many means in theory that the more important 
issues should be decided by a majority vote of those to whom 
the franchise is extended. This theory implies a political equality be- 
tween those voting, one vote being as good as another. We know of 
devices that have been used to give an unequal value to the votes cast 
but these we associate with states tending, like Rome, towards the 
rule of the few. Democratic theory rests on the assumption that the 
voters are, at least for political purposes, equal. The democrat, when 
faced with the fact that those who are politically equal are economi- 
cally divided into classes which are unequal in every other way, has a 
choice between two lines of policy. He can either assert that it is only 
political equality that matters and that other distinctions, while 
present, are trivial. Or else he can demand the abolition of all 
economic inequalities so that citizens declared to be politically equal 
are then made as equal as possible in all other respects. In practice, the 
first argument is difficult to sustain. The tramp selling matches on the 
curb may be the political equal of the millionaire who sweeps past him 
in a high-powered car. Each has but one vote and both are subject to 
the same laws. To most people, however, (and especially to the tramp) 
the inequality of their circumstances would seem to be more striking 
than the special sense in which their privileges are the same. The 
democrat tends therefore to adopt the other line of argument. Citizens 
equal in one respect should be made equal in all. The experience at 
least of Greece and Rome, in so far as it is recorded, suggests that 
democracy leads directly to socialism — the equalising of all incomes 
with the possible exception of those enjoyed by the socialist thinkers 
themselves. Nor is it easy to see how it could possibly be otherwise. 
The same experience would suggest that socialism will tend to lead 
in turn to anarchy, bloodshed and dictatorship. 

An exception, however, to this probable sequence is offered by 
communities in which a practical equality has existed from the first. 
These are the monasteries founded by the stricter adherents of a 
revealed religion. It is manifest that a monastery offers the perfect 
setting for democratic experiment. The inmates will readily concede 
their equality in the sight of God, to whose service they are all equally 



dedicated. They have no possessions. Their education will have been 
virtually the same. They are ceHbate, childless and abstemious. No 
one can be superior to another in wealth, marriage or posterity, and 
any differences which may result from birth or upbringing will tend 
to disappear. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that later demo- 
cratic theory is rooted in revealed religion and that democratic 
practice derives, in part, from monastic rule. 

Buddhism originates, as we have seen, in a part of India where a 
type of democracy was known. Whether from that origin or from the 
nature of monasticism itself, Buddhist monks evolved a democratic 
organisation within what was necessarily a theocratic framework. 
Rule of a Buddhist monastery was vested in a full meeting of its 
members. Unanimity was desired but, when this was unobtainable, a 
majority vote would suffice. The rules of procedure, however, were 
strict. There had to be a quorum, a minimum number present. Every 
motion had to pass two or four readings, the first being formal. Any 
motion might be referred to a committee, either as a form of closure 
or because irrelevant and pointless speeches were being made. And 
the vote could be taken in three ways; the open vote (by a show of 
hands or some similar means), the whispering vote (in which the teller 
was told in a whisper by each monk in turn) and the secret vote. This 
last method was the most scientific. Coloured wooden pins or tickets 
were distributed, each monk taking one secretly and showing it to 
no one else. When the count had been made, the result had to be 
accepted. But to this rule there were two exceptions. The proceedings 
were void if there had been an irregularity of procedure. They were 
void also if they could be shown to be unconstitutional — contrary, 
that is to say, to Buddhist scripture. If valid in every way, the decision 
taken was referred to as an Act. 

It is of special interest to note that Buddhist procedure was far in 
advance of anything evolved in Athens or Rome. It was far in ad- 
vance, for that matter, of British practice now. It spread to China and 
Japan and remains as the sovereign power in Tibet. What is difficult, 
however, is to establish a definite connection between the monastic 
democracies of Buddhism and Christianity. For the present it may 
suffice to point out that the same features appear in each. The monas- 
teries of Christendom held regular 'Chapter' meetings at which 
members voted on matters of common business. They also held 
conferences of each 'Order', attended by representatives of the 
different monasteries, and it was perhaps at these that the idea of 
elected representation was first evolved. Wherever founded and in 
whatever faith, the monasteries provided a useful background for 

• See Theory of Government in Ancient India. Beni Prasad. Allahabad, 1927 pp. 


democratic experiment. For the equality which in the world at large 
is a theory becomes, in a monastery, more nearly a fact. 

But monastic equality is only one contribution made by the re- 
vealed religions to democratic theory. Buddhism, Christianity and 
Islam are at one in stressing the concept of human equality before 
God. The idea in its simplest form is merely that differences in 
strength, size and intelligence as between one human being and 
another can be scarcely perceptible from heaven. There is furthermore 
a basic equality in the facts of birth, childhood, mating, sickness, 
senility and death. Buddhist equality is on a long-term basis but runs 
counter nevertheless to the Hindu institution of Caste. Christian 
equality is based on the doctrine of the fatherhood of God, in the 
light of which the believers are equal as brethren. Muslim equality 
runs counter to Arab tribal differences, instituting a fictitious kinship 
in the faith which extends a religious equality to all followers of 
Islam. It cannot be said, however, that these religious concepts had 
initially much political effect. Buddhism has normally existed along- 
side ordinary types of government. Christianity in its Catholic form 
has always allowed of a certain inequality as between priest and lay- 
man. Nor has it proved incompatible with a variety of political insti- 
tutions. As for Islam, its democratic theory has rarely tended towards 
democratic practice. It is important to remember, in this connection, 
that a strong belief in the after-life provides a poor motive for seeking 
equality in this. 

A theoretical religious equality had little practical application in 
Europe until the period of the Reformation. It remained important, 
nevertheless, in restraining the lengths to which inequality might 
otherwise have gone. The Christian ruler might claim divine right but 
he could not claim divine descent, Christ having been childless. There 
were priests at hand to remind him that he was only human and 
mortal. He ran little risk of being deified. And the idea of human 
equality, based on religious doctrine, was at least latent among the 
peasantry. It found expression in occasional peasant revolts. During 
one of these, in England, the rebels chanted 'When Adam delved and 
Eve span, who was then the gentleman?' What is most significant 
about this slogan is not the political sentiment so much as the 
biblical context. Although subject to feudal rule, the catholic peasants 
attended church and were taught a faith which implied (while not 
stressing) a basic equality in baptism, communion and burial. In the 
sixteenth century this aspect of Christianity received more publicity, 
partly through the laity's access to holy writ and partly because the 
devout sometimes found themselves subject to rulers who were not of 
the same sect. If oppressed by a heretic, the people surely had the right 
— in fact, the duty — to rebel. But such a right would seem to suggest 


that sovereignty lay, and had always lain, in the people themselves. 
An acquaintance with classical literature, by then becoming less 
exceptional among laymen, also led to talk about the democracies of 
ancient Greece. Reluctant theologians were driven to defending the 
idea of equality, if only among their co-religionists. 

So the first practical support for democracy in modern Europe 
came from religious minorities intent on justifying their resistance to 
persecution. These minorities, were Catholic or Protestant, were often 
composed of quite humble people. Having lost their natural leaders, 
whom they had to regard as heretical, they vested authority in them- 
selves. Lainey, second General of the Society of Jesus, said something 
about the sovereignty of the people in 1562, at the Council of Trent. 
The idea was put forward by Mariana in 1598 and again in 1599 in a 
work dedicated to Philip III. Another writer, Rossaeus, explained 
'that the people can extend, restrain, change, and, if circumstances 
demand it, completely suppress their government and institute an- 
other, under another form'. The Jesuit Suarez defended the people 
against their ruler, the poor against the rich. He was upholding the 
doctrine intended, however, for Catholic subjects under Protestant 
rulers. Less was heard of it in the France of Louis XIV, where demo- 
cratic ideas were mostly confined to protestants, and protestants 
mostly confined to jail. In England, similarly, democratic theory first 
became coherent among extreme protestants who found Queen 
Elizabeth's Church of England not protestant enough. They could not 
admit the rightful power of King, Parliament, Bishops or Gentry and 
were driven therefore to conclude that political power should be 
vested in themselves, a minority of people really in touch with God. 
As Hobbes remarked, 

For after the Bible was translated into English every man, nay every 
boy and every wench that could read English, thought they spoke with 
God Almighty and understood what he said.^ 

The fact that the idea of human equality should spring up among 
persecuted Huguenots in France and dour Calvinists in Scotland may 
serve at least to remind us that the idea is religious. It came to the 
fore among the seventeenth century Puritans and went with them to 
America. It reached America separately from Holland and Switzer- 
land. 'Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised' wrote John Adams, 
second President of the United States. It is true that Puritan equality 
did not extend to catholics or negroes. It did not even extend to 
Puritans of a different sect. We read of Fifth Monarchy Men, 
Baptists and Levellers, as also of Quakers, whose 'counterfeited 

' Hobhes. G. P. Gooch. London, 1939. 


simplicity renders them the more dangerous'.^ These and the avowed 
communists or Diggers, the extreme party led by Winstanley, were 
never conspicuous for their tolerance of each other. They were 
agreed, however, in opposing any idea of inequality based on an- 
cestry. To the inequalities of wealth they opposed a far less united 
front. They achieved, nevertheless, and transmitted to later British 
nonconformists a vague idea that men are equal, in some sense, at 
birth. They would not accept any claim to superiority based on 
descent, courage, manners, speech or dress. Some would even reject 
a claim to superiority based upon worldly success. All, however, 
would assert their own claim to an intimate footing with God. 
When democratic ideas of quite different origin reached England in 
the late eighteenth century, they were welcome, up to a point, among 
people already steeped in nonconformity. And, later, it was upon a 
foundation of nonconformity that the British Eabour Party was 

Puritanism found another home, as we have seen, in the American 
colonies. The godly colonists of New England received great en- 
couragement when the Roundheads triumphed in the Civil War and 
were correspondingly estranged from England when the monarchy 
was restored. They were still more estranged when the English 
monarchy showed signs of life in the person of George ill. People of 
republican views formed the hard core of the American resistance to 
England. Their success in the War of Independence (with French 
help) caused in Europe a wave of republican and egalitarian senti- 
ment, derived indirectly from Republican Holland and Roundhead 
England. Instead of looking, as some had done, to the success of the 
aristocratic government of England, thinkers began to take their 
inspiration from the United States; as many of them still do. 

Of the revealed religions Christianity is almost alone in having 
made a significant contribution to democratic theory and practice. 
But that contribution, however historically important, is extremely 
limited in scope. From the doctrine of the fatherhood of god has 
been derived the notion of the brotherhood, and therefore the 
equality, of man. This concept, based upon Christ's revelation, is 
perhaps our sole authority for the statement commonly made that 
men are or should be politically equal to each other. Christian 
doctrine has little else to offer in this field of thought and Christian 
custom adds nothing but some monastic techniques of debate which 
could as readily have derived from Buddhism. Much has been made 
of particular texts, like that of rendering to Caesar the things that are 
Caesar's. But the unreality of conclusions based on such a text is 

' See English democratic ideas in the Seventeenth Century. G. P. Goocli. 2nd ed. 
Cambridge, 1927. See also The Good Old Cause, the English Revolution of 1640-60. 
Christopher Hill and Edmund Dell. London, 1949. 


manifest. Christ was obviously not concerned with pohtics at all. 
What he had to say on the subject was not intended as political 
guidance and can mean very little when taken from its context. Christ 
having taught that men are brothers in the faith, a later theorist can 
explain the inference that all adult citizens should be equally entitled 
to vote. But that was not what Christ was talking about. That was not 
the message he was trying to convey. We have no means of knowing 
what he would have thought of a ballot-box had he been shown one, 
but what evidence there is would indicate no likelihood of his express- 
ing even the most polite interest. Attempts to extract political advice 
from the new Testament are unscholarly, dishonest or absurd. 

But there has been one religious leader to whom politics mattered 
rather more. This was Mahatma Gandhi. If the democracy of the 
future is to be based upon revealed religion, Gandhi must clearly be 
the prophet to whom democrats must turn. Of recent years, Gandhi 
is, in fact, almost alone in having anything new or useful to say about 
democracy. He is and will almost certainly remain the greatest 
democratic thinker of the twentieth century. But the ideals in which 
Gandhi believed were rooted in Hindu soil. He was well acquainted 
with Christian doctrines, some of which he could approve, but he 
stood apart from such democratic thought as can be traced back to 
ancient Greece. He was too religious a man to accept any separation 
of religious, social and political ideas. As Nirmal Kumar Bose puts it: 

The foundation of Mahatma Gandhi's life is formed by his firm 
faith in God. He looks upon God as that Universal Being which en- 
compasses everything and of which humanity is one small part. God 
is also the Law working behind all that manifests itself to us through 
the senses; for the Law and the Law-maker are not distinguishable 
from one another. . . . The highest aim of human life is to try to dis- 
cover the Law, and while so doing to purify every act of our life in 
conformity with the Law, in so far as it has been revealed to us by 

With this faith, Gandhi built up a body of political ideas in which 
the existence and the will of God is rather assumed than proved. His 
knowledge of God was gained and strengthened by personal religious 
experience. His conception of God, although subtle and comprehen- 
sive, allowed him to receive direct and personal guidance. He heard 
'Voices' and in this resembled both Socrates and Joan of Arc.^ Nor 
was he prepared to prove the existence of God by any purely rational 
argument. His belief amounted to a certainty in itself. As against this, 
he wanted his ideal State to be secular. He would have no State 

'■ Studies in Gandhism. Nirmal Kumar Bose. Calcutta, 2nd ed., 1947. p. 337. 
= The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Gopinath Dhawan. Ahmedabad, 
1946. p. 48. 


religion even if there were doctrinal agreement among all. 'If I were 
a dictator, religion and State would be separate. I swear by my 
religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The State has 
nothing to do with it. . . .'^ In this there is an apparent contradiction. 
He would have the State secular but calls in God to draw up the 
constitution. The process of reasoning by which he would justify 
his political ideas is an essentially religious process and unacceptable 
to those who would question his first axiom. 

Gandhi's views cannot, however, be disposed of as quickly as that. 
For his conclusions are at least partly based upon a worldly experi- 
ence which his critics must allow to be valid. His observation was 
exceptionally acute and he had a wide and practical knowledge of 
affairs. He was a barrister-at-law, not without practice. He had 
travelled in Europe and South Africa, organised an ambulance Corps, 
edited a Journal and made himself the leader of a political party. He 
might be a saint but he was certainly not a fool. And, as compared 
with many theorists, he knew what he was talking about. He realised, 
as he was bound to do, that politics are, at best, an unavoidable evil. 
'If I seem to take part in polities', he said, 'it is only because politics 
to-day encircle us like the coils of a snake. . . .'^ 

In the ideal State, he held, like Karl Marx, politics would become 
needless. Until then, they are unavoidable, even for one whose main 
interests are religious. As he put it, 'those who say that religion has 
nothing to do with politics, do not know what religion means'.-' He 
might have added that they do not know what politics mean either. 

It would have been at least normal for Gandhi to have returned 
from his travels to India, convinced (as so many Indians have been 
convinced) that all India needed was independence and a democracy 
on western lines. But Gandhi wanted to be free of English ideas as 
well as free of English control, and the impression he gained of 
British democracy was that it was a dismal failure. It leads, he 
thought, to nothing but imperialism, exploitation, corruption, 
instability and war. Parliaments he thought a dreary waste of time 
and money. He considered the Members of Parliament hypocritical, 
selfish and lazy. The conclusions they reached were not even final. 
'What is done to-day may be undone tomorrow'.^ He thought the 
voters as fickle as Parliament, led by dishonest journalism and 
exploited by the ruling classes. He summarised his conclusions in 
1934 in these words: — 

Western democracy is on its trial. If it has already proved a failure, 
may it be reserved to India to evolve the true science of democracy by 

' Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. p. 239. 

^ Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. p. 42. 

= Ibid. 

* Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. pp. 332-333. 


giving a visible demonstration. . . . Corruption and hypocrisy ought 
not to be the inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly 
are today. Nor is bulk the true test of democracy. True democracy is 
not inconsistent with a few persons representing the spirit, the hope and 
the aspiration of those whom they claim to represent. I hold that 
democracy cannot be evolved by forcible method. The spirit of 
democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from 

He expands this last thought in another context, maintaining that 
the right to vote in the democratic States has proved a burden to the 
people because it has been obtained by pressure rather than by 
acquiring the fitness to use it. In his view a right could only be earned 
by the performance of a duty. Self-government in a State could only 
be the sum total of the self-control shown by the citizens. He did not 
merely deny that the right which has not been earned is wrongly 
acquired. He denied that it had been acquired at all. 'The true source 
of rights is duty . . .' he said publicly in 1925. 'If leaving duties un- 
performed we run after rights, they will escape us like a will o' the 
wisp. The more we pursue them the further they will fly'. Gandhi was 
not uninfluenced by western ideas. He corresponded with Tolstoy. 
He had once fallen under the spell of Ruskin.^ But for western demo- 
cratic practice he had no use at all. 

What he had recognised was the dilemma which the Greeks had 
found in their earliest experiments in democratic rule. In any naturally 
formed human society one effect of civilisation will be to divide 
people into rich and poor. Make the people sovereign and the poor 
will use the machinery of government to dispossess the rich. By the 
time they have done so the government will have become an over- 
centralised tyranny, probably under a dictator. The whole sequence is 
of a kind familiar to the Hindus, resembling their own conception of 
the Wheel of Life. And Gandhi saw that the only escape is to remove 
the desire for gain which is the motive force throughout. He thought 
of the wealthy and the downtrodden as both criminal and both in 
fact committing the same crime. The organising of large-scale in- 
dustry, the source of disproportionate wealth and poverty, is itself 
sinful. Gopinath Dhawan thus summarises Gandhi's views on this 
question: — 

. . . Conscious adoption of handicrafts is an important step towards 
world peace in so far as mass production, which can only subsist on the 
control of large markets, is the mainspring of modern international 
rivalries, imperialistic exploitation and wars. 

In national affairs large-scale industry vitiates democracy. For it 
leads to concentration of economic power and this implies corres- 

' Gandhi, an Autobiography. Trans, by Mahadev Desai. London, 1949. p. 248. 


ponding concentration of political power and the ever present possi- 
bility of the abuse of such power. 

Mass production degrades workers and deprives them of their 
dignity and worth. It uproots them from the purity and naturalness of 
domestic atmosphere in rural areas, baulks their creative urge and 
turns them into mere statistical units. ^ 

Gandhi emphasised that it is not merely capitalism that is evil but 
industry itself. 

Machinery has begun to desolate Europe. Ruination is knocking 
at the English gates. Machinery is the chief symbol of modern 
civilization, it represents a great sin. . . . 

Industrialism is, I am afraid, going to be a curse for mankind. 
Industrialism depends entirely on your capacity to exploit, on foreign 
markets being open to you, and on the absence of competitors. . . . 
The fact is that this industrial civilization is a disease because it is all 

Here he was at one with William Morris and G. K. Chesterton. 
Nor would he agree for a moment with those who think to mitigate 
the evils of industrialism by a policy of nationalisation. For that 
could only mean transferring to the State a power which is quite 
dangerous enough even in the hands of individuals. 

I look upon an increase in the power of the state with the greatest 
fear because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing 
exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying 
individuality which lies at the root of all progress. 

The state represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. 
The individual has a soul, but as the state is a soulless machine, it can 
never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence. 

It is my firm conviction that if the state suppressed capitalism by 
violence, it will be caught in the coils of violence itself and fail to 
develop non-violence at any time. 

What I would personally prefer would be, not a centralization of 
power in the hands of the state but an extension of the sense of trustee- 
ship; as in my opinion, the violence of private ownership is less 
injurious than the violence of the state.'' 

Gandhi saw that democracy and spiritual unity is impossible in a 
State torn apart by the conflict between the rich and the poor. But the 
only way to bring about economic equality is by example and 

... To induce the rich to accept the ideal of economic equality and hold 
their wealth in trust for the poor, he would depend upon persuasion, 

' Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. p. 222. 

" Studies in Gandhism. Nirmal Kumar Bose. 2nd ed. Calcutta, 1947. p. 30. 
^Selected writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Selected and introduced by R. Duncan. 
London, 1951. pp. 244-245. 


education, non-violent non-co-operation and other non-violent 
means. According to Gandhiji the theory of the trusteeship of the 
wealthy for their superfluous wealth lies at the root of the doctrine of 
equal distribution. The only alternative to trusteeship is confiscation 
through violence. But by resorting to violence society will be poorer 
'for it will lose the gifts of a man who knows how to accumulate 
wealth'. Non-violent non-co-operation is the infallible means to bring 
about trusteeship because the rich cannot accumulate wealth without 
the co-operation of the poor in society.^ 

Gandhi maintained that confiscation of private wealth is a crime and 
one that defeats its own end. A democracy thus based on violence 
will not be a democracy at all. 

What sort of society is to result when industry and capitalism have 
been abolished by non-violent means? Gandhi's ideal is taken from 
the Indian countryside. Society must centre on the co-operative 
village as a self-governing unit. Power must be decentralised to the 
utmost, leaving self-contained villages to manage their own affairs. 
Each village will be a democracy based upon individual freedom. 

What higher organisation will there be? Gandhi's ideal was 

. . . the classless and Stateless society, a state of self-regulated en- 
lightened 'anarchy', in which social cohesion will be maintained by 
internal and non-coercive external sanctions. But as this ideal is not 
realizable, he has an attainable middle ideal also — the predominantly 
non-violent State. Retaining the State in this second best society is a 
concession to human imperfection. . . . The State will be a federation of 
decentralized democratic rural . . . communities. These communities 
will be based on 'voluntary simplicity, poverty and slowness'." 

Gandhi left very little for the State to do, but he explained, in 
outline, how its affairs should be conducted. All adult and working 
citizens should vote for village representatives. These would vote in 
turn, electing district representatives. These would elect provincial 
representatives who would then elect a president. He held that these 
indirect elections would diminish excitement, bribery, corruption 
and violence. His ruling bodies were to have a relatively small 
membership: 'True democracy is not inconsistent with a few persons 
representing the spirit, the hope and the aspirations of those whom 
they claim to represent'. For government he wanted 'a few chosen 
servants removable at the will of the nation'.^ For president he 
wanted an ascetic and saint. 

This picture, in outline, of an ideal or semi-ideal State is attractive. 
In so far, moreover, as Gandhi was basing his argument on political 
failures he had seen and village communities which he knew, he 

' Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. p. 221. 

^ Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. pp. 382-383. 

' Gopinath Dhawan. op. cit. p. 197. 


merits very careful attention. It must, however, be remembered that 
he derived his ideas also from divine revelation. To many, ideas so 
derived are acceptable. But Gandhi's inspiration, if taken as evidence, 
extends to matters still more doubtful. High in his list of principles 
came that of prohibition. Low in the same list comes that of Nature 
Cure, based on the idea that 'Disease is impossible where there is 
purity of thought'. If we are to accept Gandhi as an inspired prophet 
we must accept not only his political principles but also his permitted 
drugs, which are 'earth, sky, air, sunlight and water'.' If, on the other 
hand, we reject his literal inspiration, we are left with no logical 
basis upon which we can agree. To any but a Hindu his axioms may 
be unacceptable. 

' See Duncan, op. cit. Also Reminiscences of Gandhiji. Ed. C. Shukle. Bombay, 1951. 
p. 101. 


Democracy justified by Reason 

THE doctrine of religious equality existed side by side in eighteenth 
century Europe with doctrines of equality based only on rational 
argument. The two sorts of egalitarianism meet and mingle in the 
American Revolution. They merge, above all, in the Declaration of 
Independence, passed by Congress on July 4th, 1776 and signed on 
the 19th. It was written by Thomas Jefferson, the impetus which 
brought it into being coming initially from North Carolina and 
Virginia. Ten States voted for it, three against; New York being one. 
The most interesting words are these: — 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created 
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable 
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happi- 
ness. That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among 
Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. 
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these 
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. . . } 

'The document', it has been remarked 'is full of Jefferson's fervent 
spirit and personality, and its ideals were those to which his life was 
consecrated. It is the best known and the noblest of American State 
papers. . . .- 

Well known and noble the words may be. But what do they mean ? 
As for the axioms stated, they were not self-evident to Jefferson, for 
he took them from Locke. They were not self-evident to Locke be- 
cause he took them from Hooker. And Hooker, when consulted, 
turns out to be less certain about it than Locke seems to have 
supposed. In any case. Hooker's arguments and Jefferson's alike 
assume a Creator of mankind (as mankind now is) and are useless to 
an agnostic and useless even to a believer in the theory of evolution, 
who must hold that man (recognisable as such) was not created dit all 
but evolved from the animals. 

It is of particular interest, however, to see how Jefferson's theory 
hovers between the religious and the rational. The existence of the 

' The American Government. E. W. Carter and C. C. Rohlfing. New York, 1952. 

- Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Declaration of Independence. See also 
Jejferson and tlie Rights of Man. D. Malone. Boston, 1951. 



Creator is self-evident and so are his main intentions. But it is the 
people, not the Creator, who have established government and their 
purpose in doing so is known. When their purposes are not achieved, 
the government may be altered or abolished. Whatever theological 
basis there may be for the doctrine that men are created equal, it is 
surely doubtful whether Christ, let alone Buddha, would have 
regarded the pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right. Indeed, few 
religious thinkers would recommend the pursuit of happiness at all. 
Most would perhaps agree that happiness is achieved incidentally by 
people who are pursuing something else. As for Jefferson's theory 
about the origin of government, it is wholly mistaken. The function 
of the earliest rulers over defined States was to make the crops grow. 
They were not appointed to secure liberty and it is not obvious that 
the builders of the pyramids ever made this their main object in life. 
Jefferson's theory begins with doubtful theology and ends with an 
historical assertion that is clearly wrong. Of this some of his colleagues 
may have been uneasily aware. Jefferson's noble sentiments were not, 
at any rate, repeated in the Constitution of the United States, as 
drawn up and agreed on 17th September, 1787. 
This Constitution begins simply: — 

We the PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more 
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide 
for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the 
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and 
establish this Constitution for the United States of America. . . . 

— and so gets down to business by defining the relationship between 
the thirteen States and the Federal Government. And it may well be 
thought that the principal American achievement was rather in 
establishing a (more or less) workable Federation than in proclaiming 
the doctrine of human equality, concerning which the several States 
were far from agreement. Between October, 1787, and August, 1788 
the principal architects of the Constitution — Alexander Hamilton, 
James Madison and John Jay — defended it in the pages of the 
Federalist^ with the object of securing its ratification by the different 
States. These articles in the Federalist afford an early and authorita- 
tive commentary upon the United States Constitution and have 
served since to make American ideas more widely known and more 
commonly accepted. 

The opposition which the Federalist arguments were designed to 
overcome came from those intent on maintaining the autonomy of the 
several States. Their objections were partly met by the provision in the 
Constitution itself of a strict separation of powers and a Supreme 

' The Federalist, or the New Constitution. Alexander Hamilton and others. Ed. by 
Max Beloff. Oxford, 1948. 


Court vested with the duty of safeguarding the Federal agreement. 
Their attention was also drawn to two possibilities they may have 
overlooked; one being that the colonies, if not united, would be vul- 
nerable to external aggression; the other being that the colonies, if 
entirely independent or united in several groups, would certainly 
fight each other. 

... To presume a want of motives for such contests . . . would be to 
forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a 
continuation of harmony between a number of independent uncon- 
nected sovereignties, situated in the same neighbourhood, would be 
to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance 
the accumulated experience of ages. . . . 

But notwithstanding the concurring testimony of experience in this 
particular, there are still to be found visionary, or designing men, who 
stand ready to advocate the paradox of perpetual peace between the 
states, though dismembered and alienated from each other. The genius 
of republics, they say, is pacific; the spirit of commerce has a tendency 
to soften the manners of men. . . . 

[But] Have republics in practice been less addicted to war than 
monarchies? Are not the former administered by men as well as the 
latter? Are there not aversions, predelictions, rivalships, and desires of 
unjust acquisition, that affect nations, as well as kings ? Are not popular 
assemblies frequently subject to the impulse of rage, resentment, 
jealousy, avarice, and of other irregular and violent propensities? 
. . . Let experience, the least fallible guide of human opinions, be 
appealed to for an answer to these inquiries.^ 

It will be apparent that the framers of the Constitution lacked 
something of Jefferson's idealistic fervour. Their feet, we may agree, 
were on the ground. But they lived, nevertheless, in the period which 
led up to and included the French Revolution, and the connection 
between American and French ideas was close. Symbolising this 
connection was Tom Paine (1737-1809), the Quaker teacher, excise- 
man and journalist who migrated to America in 1775 and took an 
active political part in the War of Independence. He wrote a book 
called Common Sense in 1776, the year in which most of the indi- 
vidual states were drawing up their own State Constitutions. He had 
considerable influence in bringing about a complete break with 
England, demanding independence and no compromise. He played 
some part in drawing up the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789 
but was absent in France when the Constitution of the United States 
was drawn up, mainly by James Madison, in 1787. When the French 
Revolution began, Paine was in England, where he presently wrote 
the Rights of Man (1791) in answer to Burke's Refections. Elected 
member for Calais in the French Convention, he was in France from 

' The Federalist, No. VI. 


1792 to 1801 returning then to the United States where he died in 
1809 at the age of seventy-two. His life thus covers and connects the 
American and French Revolutions. His dissenting background 
connects him, moreover, with the English Revolution of the previous 
century. His views are summarised in the Rights of Man and there 
can be no doubt of his influence in America, in France, and even in 

Tom Paine wrote Rights of Man} to confute Burke and takes 
up much of his space in doing so. He becomes more constructive 
when he begins to distinguish between governments, dividing them 
into those based on superstition, those based on power, and those 
based upon the common interests of society and the common rights of 
man. The only governments he will admit to the last category are 
those of the United States and France. Elsewhere," however, he 
divides existing governments into only two classes: those empowered 
by election and representation and those involving hereditary 
succession. 'The former is generally known by the name of republic; 
the latter by that of monarchy and aristocracy'. His readers are left 
in no doubt as to which he prefers. 'Those two distinct and opposite 
forms erect themselves on the two distinct and opposite bases of 
reason and ignorance. . . .'^ On reason, therefore, he bases 'a system 
of principles as universal as truth and the existence of man, and 
combining moral with political happiness and national prosperity'. 
His principles are three in number, as follows: — 

I. Men are born, and always continue, free and equal in respect of 
their rights. Civil distinctions, therefore, can be founded only on 
public utility. 
II. The end of all political associations is the preservation of the 
natural and imprescriptible rights of man, and these rights are 
liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression. 
III. The nation is essentially the source of all sovereignty; nor can any 
individual, or any body of men, be entitled to any authority 
which is not expressly derived from it. 

He goes on to explain what the result of applying these principles 
will be: — 

Monarchical sovereignty, the enemy of mankind and the source of 
misery, is abolished; and sovereignty itself is restored to its natural 
and original place, the nation. Were this the case throughout Europe, 
the cause of wars would be taken away. 

He ends happily with the words :^ 

' Basic Writings of Thomas Paine. Common Sense. Rig/its of Man. Age of Reason. 
New York, 1942. See p. 88 for the Declaration of the Rights of Man. 
'Ibid. p. 123. 
= /bid. p. 128. 
Ubid. p. 131. 


From what we can now see, nothing of reform in the political world 
ought to be held improbable. It is an age of revolutions in which every 
thing may be looked for. The intrigue of courts, by which the system of 
war is kept up, may provoke a confederation of nations to abolish it: 
and an European congress to patronize the progress of free govern- 
ment ... is an event nearer in probability than once were the revolu- 
tions and alliance of France and America. 

Tom Paine's three principles are the first three included in the 
French Declaration of the Rights of Man and he may well have been 
the author of them. The Declaration begins with a preamble stating 
that all public misfortunes are due to ignorance, neglect or contempt 
of human rights, which are 'natural, imprescriptible, and unalien- 
able'. The Rights listed in the French version number seventeen in all, 
covering the general topics of liberty, law, arrest, penalties, legal 
procedure, freedom of opinion and publication, the separation of 
powers and the sanctity of property. 

In reading the considerable body of literature evoked by the 
American and French Revolutions, the student is necessarily struck 
by the contrast between theory and practice. The American doctrine 
of equality did not apply to women, red Indians or negroes. French- 
men who became enthusiastic about the Rights of Man could proclaim 
clauses VIII and IX against a background noise provided by the 
guillotine. True that contrast would not invalidate the principles 
themselves if we could only discover the proofs of their validity. But 
Tom Paine and his French contemporaries generally follow the 
practice of Jefferson, making an axiom of the proposition they have 
to prove. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . .' No argument 
can follow from such a beginning as that. In fact, however, as we have 
seen, these great truths became self-evident only after those who 
stated them had read certain older publications. The roots of the non- 
religious doctrine of equality are to be found in the French literature 
of a somewhat earlier date. To that literature we should turn for the 
proof of assertions later found to be self-evident. 

Every student of European history is sooner or later called upon to 
memorise the causes of the French Revolution; one of which usually 
turns out to be the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau. Voltaire's 
direct responsibility might be difficult to prove, it is clear, on the 
other hand, that some ideas of the day can be traced to Rousseau. It 
is no doubt for that reason among others that the student is advised 
to read the Social Contract. The case for including that work as a 
cause of the revolution is weakened somewhat by lack of evidence 
that it was widely read. M. Daniel Mornet analysed the library 
catalogues of five hundred contemporaries of Louis XV and dis- 
covered that whereas 165 of them included Nouvelle Heloise, only 


one contained the Conlrat Social. Easily the most popular work, 
incidentally, was Bayle's Dictionnaire, 288 copies of which figured in 
his list. As for J. J. Rousseau, his more popular books, like Emile, 
may have had a generally unsettling influence. The Conlrat Social, 
on the other hand, supposed origin of egalitarian doctrine, had not 
only, as it seems, a limited circulation; it had also, in another way, 
only a limited effect. While Rousseau admittedly discusses politics in 
the abstract without expressing admiration for things as they were in 
France, he is far from preaching immediate revolt. He has not filled 
his book with sedition from cover to cover. What, after all, does it 
contain? It starts off bravely with the sentence 'Man is born free, and 
everywhere he is in chains'.^ There follows the theory of the original 
contract, which is not his own, and the theory of the 'General Will', 
which remains rather obscure. 

What, however, of Democracy? Does he in fact prove what Paine 
and Jeff'erson merely chose to assume ? He does not discuss democracy 
until he reaches Book III, and then he writes: — 

Taking the term in its strict sense, there never has existed, and never 
will exist, any true democracy. It is contrary to the natural order that 
the majority should govern and that the minority should be governed.^ 

Democracy, he suggests, implies a small State, simplicity of man- 
ners, equality in rank and fortune and the entire absence of anything 
approaching luxury. Without those conditions, democracy is too 
liable to cause civil war and riot. 'If there were a nation of gods, it 
would be governed democratically. So perfect a government is un- 
suited to men'. Nor (see Chapter XV, Book 111) will he allow that 
deputies or representatives can even plausibly simulate democracy. 
When a people sinks so low as to elect representatives — as the result, 
no doubt, of wealth and indolence — their freedom is lost.^ 

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a native of Geneva and had seen 
something of democracy in the Alpine valleys. He concluded that 
what was possible there might not be so practicable in other lands. 
The Abbe Raynal came to the same conclusion and wrote of the 
Swiss as follows: — 

. . . From the top of their barren mountains, they behold, groaning 
under the oppression of tyranny, whole nations which nature hath 
placed in more plentiful countries, while they enjoy in peace the fruits 
of their labour, of their frugality, of their moderation, and of all the 
virtues that attend upon liberty. . . . Undoubtedly, the love of riches 
hath somewhat altered that amiable simplicity of manners, in such of 
the cantons where the arts and commerce have made any considerable 

' The Social Contract. J. J. Rousseau. Trans, by H. J. Tozer. London, 1924. p. 100. 
^ Rousseau, op. cit. p. 159. 
^ Rouseau. op. cit. p. 186. 


progress; but the features of their primitive character are not entirely 
effaced, and they still retain a kind of happiness unknown to other 

They also still retained what is more important from our point of 
view — a clear idea of the circumstances in which democracy can 
flourish. This idea Rousseau also retained, expressing his preference 
for small States and being prepared to explain (although he never 
actually did so) how they might combine in a federation for mutual 

One of Rousseau's most significant contributions to political 
thought is contained in Chapter IX of Book III. It reads as follows : — 

When ... it is asked absolutely which is the best government, an 
insoluble and likewise indeterminate question is propounded. . . . 

But if it were asked by what sign it can be known whether a given 
people is well or ill governed, that would be a different matter, and the 
question of fact might be determined. 

It is, however, not settled, because every one wishes to decide it in 
his own way. . . . 

. . . What is the object of political association? It is the preservation 
and prosperity of its members. And what is the surest sign that they 
are preserved and prosperous? It is their number and population. Do 
not, then, go and seek elsewhere for this sign so much discussed. All 
other things being equal, the government under which, without ex- 
ternal aids, without naturalization and without colonies, the citizens 
increase and multiply most, is infallibly the best. That under which a 
people diminishes and decays is the worst. Statisticians, it is now your 
business; reckon, measure, compare." 

What Rousseau here suggests may not be the whole answer to the 
problem but it marks an enormous advance in thought. It puts him 
at once in a different class, and a writer like Tom Paine is not to be 
compared with him. 

Democratic thinkers of the late eighteenth century rested their case 
very largely on the success of the American colonists in achieving 
their independence. Rousseau's background was, of course, different. 
He thought of Switzerland and also, at one time, of the 'Noble 
Savages' allegedly discovered by Captain Cook. But several other 
French authors were interested in interpreting the apparent success 
of the American experiment. And, like Rousseau, they saw that the 
political problem has its economic aspect. It was one of these, the 
Abbe Raynal, who pointed out that equality and liberty are not 
compatible with each other. Given equality, men stagnate. Given 
liberty, they are soon unequal. And liberty, he considered, was 

' America: Ideal and Reality. W. Stark. London, 1947. p. 27. 
^ Rousseau, op. cit. p. 175. 


It hath been said, that we were all born equals; but that is not true. 
That we had all the same rights. I do not know what rights are, where 
there is an inequality of talents and of strength, and no guarantee nor 
sanction . . . nor do I know in what sense it can be true that we enjoy 
the same qualities of body and of mind. There is an original inequality 
between men which nothing can remedy. It must last forever; and all 
that can be obtained from the best legislation will not be to destroy it, 
but to prevent its abuses. . . . 

The chimerical idea of an equality of stations is the most dangerous 
one that can be adopted in a civilized society. To preach this system to 
the people, is not to put them in mind of their rights; it is leading them 
on to assassination and plunder. It is letting domestic animals loose, 
and transforming them into wild beasts. . . .^ 

Raynal nevertheless wants inequality to be kept within bounds and 
sees the abolition of the right of inheritance as the best means of 
securing this end. He also wants to ensure that trade should not 
predominate over agriculture. America, he considers, gains much 
from its primitive conditions, which give a high measure of both 
liberty and equality; but he notes that there is slavery there, too. 

It is in the colonies that men lead such a rural life as was the 
original destination of mankind, best suited to the health and increase 
of the species: probably they enjoy all the happiness consistent with 
the frailty of human nature. . . .^ 

But he bids America beware of gold, of luxury, of too great in- 
equality of wealth. He urges the Americans finally to ensure that 
liberty should have 'a firm and unalterable basis in the wisdom of 
your constitutions'. 

Another French thinker, Gabriel de Mably, also faced the problem 
of liberty and equality but came to the opposite conclusion. 'Equality' 
he wrote, 'is necessary to men. Nature made it a law for our earliest 
ancestors and declared her intentions so clearly that it was impossible 
to ignore them. . . . Did she not give to all men the same organs, the 
same wants, the same reason?' To achieve equality he is prepared to 
sacrifice wealth. He thinks that poverty, as existed in Sparta, makes 
for happiness but he admits that the danger is one of stagnation. The 
remedy for stagnation lies in the institution of private property. And 
from that springs inequality, wealth, poverty and slavery. Essentially, 
he thinks 'our evils are without remedy'. But there can be palliatives 
and he suggests what they should be. 'I say in a word that good 
legislation should continually break up and divide the fortunes 
which avarice and ambition continually labour to amass'. As a 
second-best to primitive equality, he thinks it best to balance against 
each other the forces of Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy. 

1 America: Ideal and Reality. W. Stark. London, 1947. p. 23, 
' Stark, W. op. cit. p. 33. 


But what is more interesting is that Mably perceives that American 
political equality must be fictitious if combined with inequalities of 
wealth and the seeds of aristocracy imported from England. 

A spirit of commerce will, in my opinion, soon become the general 
and predominant spirit of the inhabitants of your cities.^ 

Wealth will result, and poverty, and then the beginnings of class 

With the manners we have in Europe, and which probably are al- 
ready too general in America, wealth must at last usurp an absolute 
empire. All efforts made to oppose it will be fruitless; but it is not 
impossible, by many precautions, to prevent this empire from becom- 
ing tyrannical.- 

That is the most that Mably hopes for and more perhaps than he 
thinks will be achieved. 

Brissot was the author who admired the United States with least 
reservation. He was there in 1788 and published his Travels in 1791. 
He maintains that the best State is that which ensures equality by a 
wide distribution of property. There would always be the rich, 
perhaps, but we must avoid having extreme poverty. He advocates 
property (rather than employment) for all. The peasant farmer, he 
thinks, has independence, plenty and happiness in return for patience, 
industry and labour. 

It is in a country life in America, that true happiness is to be found 
by him who is wise enough to make it consist in tranquillity of soul, in 
the enjoyment of himself and of nature. What is the fatiguing agitation 
of our great cities, compared to this delicious calmness ?3 

It is, of course, the northern States he admires, and especially the 
people of Boston and the Quakers, for their good sense and sim- 
plicity. Of the Quakers he wrote 'Renouncing all external pleasures, 
music, theatres and shows, they are devoted to their duties as citizens, 
to their families, and to their business'. He remarks that they will 
have no theatre in Philadelphia. To preserve simplicity Brissot thinks 
it essential to restrain commerce and industry. Manufactures 'gather 
a multitude of individuals whose physique and morals decline to- 
gether; they accustom and form man for servitude. . . .' They tend, in 
fact, to produce aristocracy. Brissot evidently feared (while denying) 
that American wealth would soon corrupt the original ideals of 

One other author must be mentioned and that is Chastellux, a 
French aristocrat, philosopher and soldier who served in America 

• Stark, W. op. cit. p. 54. 
- Ibid. p. 55. 
= Ibid. p. 93. 


during the War of Independence (1780-82) and published his impres- 
sions soon afterwards. He drew the usual contrast between North 
and South. He noted both the democratic constitution and the 
growing wealth and wondered whether they were compatible. He put 
the question to Mr. Samuel Adams, who maintained that the consti- 
tution balanced any growth of aristocracy by its counterpoise of 
monarchy and democracy. Chastellux was unconvinced and thought 
that, with great differences of wealth, democracy would become a 
meaningless form and, more than that, a dangerous fiction. Socially, 
he saw that approximate equality of wealth is essential to democratic 
rule. But he states his objection to that equality on other grounds. He 
cannot see that it is compatible with the arts. He loathed the Quakers 
as soon as he saw them. 'Great musicians', he writes 'are oftener to 
be met with in the courts of despots, than in republics'. He argues, 
further, that the man who really enjoys retirement in the country 
must have been educated in a city. 

. . . retirement is sterile for the man without information. Now the 
information is to be acquired best in towns. Let us not confound the 
man retired into the country, with the man educated in the country. 
The former is the most perfect of his species, and the latter frequently 
does not merit to belong to it.^ 

But Chastellux agreed with Brissot, with Mably and Raynal in 
one thing, that the United States would not always remain the ideal 
country of liberty and equality. In point of fact, the predictions made 
were almost immediately justified. A wealthy governing class appeared 
in the very first Congress and was indeed championed by John 
Adams, the first President after Washington. He pointed out, as 
against the egalitarians, that equality of property is impossible. There 
must always be gentlemen, he inferred, of greater wealth, intelligence 
and education. No pure democracy can exist. Class differences were 
there, as we know, from the beginning and were to become more 
acute. The ideal upheld was not that of equality but that of liberty. 
Nor is it surprising that the Americans, given their choice, should 
have chosen as they did. For, in coming to the New World, it was 
freedom they had sought. 

Stark, W. op. cit. p. 78. 


Democracy justified by Utility 

THE French Revolution was the result of earlier movements of 
which the American Revolution was the most important. It 
was a violent experience; so violent indeed that France has had no 
stable system of government since, and certainly has none now. It 
achieved swift and startling results — the confiscation of crown and 
church and noble property, the suppression of the monasteries, the 
abolition of tithes, the abolition of titles and the destruction of all 
hereditary privilege. The Revolution was accompanied or followed by 
the redivision of France into Departments, a new currency, the 
decimal system in weights and measures, a new code of laws, a new 
currency and a new calendar. Various political systems were tried in 
rapid succession. With frightful bloodshed monarchy gave way to 
republic, democracy to mob-rule and anarchy, and anarchy to 
military dictatorship. Dictatorship became monarchy, which was 
replaced by a republic, then by a despotism and then by a republic 
again. It is too early to say what the final form will be when, if ever, 
stability is regained. 

But while the actual experience of France is not wholly encourag- 
ing, the ideas expressed at the time of the Revolution have been given 
almost permanent currency. These were briefly summarised at the 
time in the convenient slogan 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity'. Nor 
was this slogan entirely meaningless. Liberty of thought, speech, 
religion and meeting were more or less established. Equality before 
the law was more or less achieved. Political equality was gained and 
economic equality left unattempted. Perhaps, however, the most 
permanent and characteristic result of the Revolution was the 
creation of the secular state — a thing still unknown in England or the 
United States. For the rest, it is not clear that the French Revolution 
made any notable contribution to political thought. The thinking 
had been done beforehand and no orator of the revolutionary era was 
able to progress much further than earlier thinkers except perhaps 
in secularism. Granted that a measure of liberty and equality was 
gained, no answer was found to the question already posed in 
America; namely, whether political equality is of much value among 
people economically unequal, and how liberty can be upheld in a 



State where economic equality has been established by force. Gen- 
erally speaking, we shall look in vain for any novelty in French 
political thought after the Revolution. 

More interesting was the development of political ideas in England 
between 1776 and 1832; a development largely centred upon Jeremy 
Bentham. His was the intellect behind the English Radicals. Bentham 
was essentially a law reformer and codifier, his political thought 
being incidental to his initial quarrel with lawyers in general and 
Blackstone in particular. He wrote his Fragment on Government 
(1176) chiefly to refute Blackstone, which he did effectively and in 
some detail. Commenting upon one passage, he writes with gusto: 

... on a distant glance nothing can look fairer. . . . Step close to it and 
the delusion vanishes. It is then seen to consist partly of self-evident 
observations, and partly of contradictions; partly of what every one 
knows already, and partly of what no one can understand at all. . . .^ 

Himself a barrister, he thought poorly of lawyers as a class, 
describing them as: 

... a passive and enervate race, ready to swallow anything, and to 
acquiesce in anything; with intellects incapable of distinguishing right 
from wrong, and with affections alike indiflFerent to either; insensible, 
short-sighted, obstinate; lethargic, yet liable to be driven in con- 
vulsions by false terrors; deaf to the voice of reason and public utility; 
obsequious only to the whisper of interest, and to the beck of power.^ 

Enough has been quoted to show that Bentham's works are well 
worth reading. He had, for one thing, a literary gift which was denied 
to many of his disciples. Using that gift, he made himself the prophet 
of militant atheism, the intellectual leader of middle-class revolt 
against aristocracy and the inspirer of most Victorian radical ideas. 
He was himself, of course, an eighteenth century figure, friend of the 
aristocrats he meant to depose and a frequenter at one time of the 
country houses he meant, presumably, to demolish. As a rich 
attorney's son he found no door closed against him; he had, there- 
fore, none of the rebel's bitterness except perhaps where lawyers 
were concerned. The middle-class revolt of his day had two main 
aspects; the drive against all trade restraints and legalised monopolies, 
and the drive for political, parliamentary and municipal reform. The 
former movement more especially concerned the East India Company, 
the Corn Laws, the Church of England and all that remained of the 
Stuart attempts at State control and social legislation. A drive 
against all these evils (which have mostly now been re-introduced) 
might have been begun in the spirit of Rousseau or Tom Paine. 

' A Fragment on Government. Jeremy Bentham. Ed. by F. C. Montague. Oxford, 1931. 
p. 152. 

^ Bentham. op. cit. p. 104. 


But Bentham — with some help from Priestley — carefully discarded 
all ideas based upon religion, ethics, tradition, history or precedent. 
He was not interested in Social Contracts. Taking mankind as he 
believed it to be, he put forward, as his measure of political excel- 
lence, the principle of 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number'.^ 

This is how Bentham defines his own theory: — 

The aim of government should be the greatest happiness of all the 
members of the state. But what is good for one may be opposed to the 
happiness of many others. Unfortunately, it is impossible to enlarge 
indefinitely the sphere of happiness of every individual without coming 
in conflict with the happiness of others. Therefore, the only aim should 
be the greatest possible happiness of the greatest number; in a word, 
the common good is the right aim of government, and the proper task 
of a lawmaker is to discover regulations designed to bring about the 
greatest good to the greatest number of human beings. The just law- 
maker who has equal regard for every member of the community can 
pursue no other aim. The determination of every point in every law, 
from first to last, without exception, must be directed toward the 
greatest good of the greatest number and must rest upon that principle. 
Was this ever the case?" 

He answers 'No' and explains that government has always been 
for the benefit of those who did the governing. 

The critic of Bentham's theory, as it is thus briefly explained, would 
object that 'happiness' is too vague a term. But Bentham does not 
leave the word undefined. Analysing it, he finds in it the elements of 
Subsistence. Abundance, Security and Equality. This last element he 
expressly denies as a fact but insists upon as a working rule of 
legislation — very much in the tradition of English law. Applying his 
main principle to the question of the inequality of worldly means, he 
points out that in the increase of wealth there is a law of diminishing 
returns. A hundred pounds or an acre of land is nothing to a mil- 
lionaire, little to a man of wealth, something to a tradesman and a 
fortune to a labourer. It shall be given, therefore, to the man to whom 
it will give greatest happiness; for so only will the sum total of 
happiness be perceptibly increased. As a result of this reasoning, 
Bentham pleads for a wider distribution of property. 

The greatest sum of total happiness is to be obtained through the 
most equal distribution of goods. The state should thus strive towards 
a continual approach to equality of possession, but without impairing 
its three other aims which are above equality, namely, security, sub- 
sistence, well-being. Equality is, in fact, the equality of these three. 
For the attainment of equality, therefore, no measures should be 

' See Political Philosophy from Plato to Jeremy Bentham. G. Engeimann. Trans, by 
K. F. Geiser. New York, 1927. 

'' Engeimann. op. cit. Introduction to a project for a Constitutional Code. p. 340. 


applied which undermine security, disturb existence and well-being, 
or weaken the initiative and activity of the individual. The proper 
measure is the control of the right of inheritance.^ 

While thus seeking to bring about a greater degree of economic 
equality, Bentham was not a socialist. He considered, in fact, that 
'the hostile sword in its utmost furies' would be a less dreadful 
prospect than the victory of socialism. But while not a socialist, he 
was a democrat. He wanted to sweep away monarchy and peerage 
and leave all power to a reformed House of Commons, itself checked 
by an enlightened middle class. 'An economical financial adminis- 
tration', he held, 'is only possible in a representative democracy'. 
He finds a further merit in such a regime in that 'a representative 
democracy — in which the supreme power is in the people who elect 
and reject them — will scarcely engage in war'. He strongly supported 
the liberty of the press as a safeguard against oppression. He thought 
he could have no better object in life than 'the bettering of this wicked 
world, by covering it over with Republics'. 

Bentham believed in unlimited freedom of competition, arguing 
that all restrictions reduce the national wealth. Only free competition 
will secure the lowest prices and the best work. He was opposed to 
the acquisition of colonies, maintaining that one could trade with 
them without controlling them. Colonies were to him, in fact, yet 
one more instance of 'the fallacy of those artificial efforts which 
legislation makes to increase the country's wealth'. Curiously, his 
whole argument about the greatest happiness of the greatest number 
assumes an equality of persons, and an equality moreover in their 
capacity for happiness — a doubtful point — and even in their method 
of achieving it. Such a belief might have been justified in terms of 
Natural Law but Bentham believed in no such thing. Indeed, the 
idea of natural law or natural right had been effectively demolished by 
David Hume as far back as 1 748, and demolished indeed to Bentham's 
own satisfaction. Hume had shown convincingly that the nature of 
human loyalty and the nature of a contract are entirely different, 
although both derive from a desire for a stable society. He had 
shown, furthermore, that ideas of morality (including the idea that a 
contract should be kept) are not 'eternal verities rooted in nature, but 
merely standard ways of behaving justified by experience . . . fixed 
by habit'.'" Some of these conventions concern property, others 
concern government. 

If the premises of Hume's argument be granted, it can hardly be 
denied that he made a clean sweep of the whole rationalist philosophy 
of natural right, of self-evident truths, and of the laws of eternal and 

' A History of Political Theory. George H. Sabine. London, 1937. p. 508. 
' Jeremy Bentham, op. cit. p. 153. 


immutable morality which were supposed to guarantee the harmony 
of nature and the order of human society. In place of indefeasible 
rights or natural justice and liberty, there remains merely utility, con- 
ceived in terms either of self-interest or social stability, and issuing in 
certain conventional standards of conduct which on the whole serve 
human purposes. Such conventions may, of course, be widespread 
among men and relatively permanent, because human motives are 
fairly uniform and in their general outlines change slowly, but in no 
other sense can they be called universal.' 

Hume himself ends his essay On the Original Contract with the 

New discoveries are not to be expected in these matters. If scarce 
any man, till very lately, ever imagined that government was founded 
on compact, it is certain that it cannot, in general, have any such 

This was an argument which Bentham accepted if others did not. 
He would base his government neither on a fictitious 'contract' nor 
on the laws of god nor on the laws of morality which men may have 
evolved for themselves. 

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign 
masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we 
ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. ... In words a 
man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain 
subject to it all the while. . . .•' 

Bentham's whole argument in support of 'laissez-faire' is thus 
based on the assumption that human motives are selfish and that their 
selfishness can be turned to good account. But Bentham's own ex- 
ample — the example of a long life entirely spent in a selfless search 
for truth and the means of bettering mankind — contradicts all his 
own assumptions as to what human motives can be taken to be. If 
that life was 'happiness' to him (as it clearly was), his 'greatest happi- 
ness of the greatest number' must be given a meaning very different 
from the obvious meaning and very different from the sense in which 
he used the phrase himself. 

Bentham's influence, considerable in his own day, became almost 
supreme in nineteenth century England after his death. His friends 
and followers were the Utilitarians — Ricardo the economist, 
Malthus the writer on population and James Mill, the historian of 
British India. Mill and Bentham agreed to educate the former's child 
to be the apostle of their teaching. Their plan was queerly successful, 

' Sabine, G. H. op. cii. p. 509. 

- Social Contract. Essays by Locke, Hume and Rousseau, with an introduction by Sir 
Ernest Barker. Oxford, 1948. 

' Jeremy Bentham. op. cit. (Chapter I of Introduction). 


dreadful as the results were, physically, for John Stuart Mill. Be- 
ginning to read at the age of two, he had reached the differential 
calculus at the age of eight, completed his formal education by the 
age of fourteen and had a nervous breakdown when he was twenty. 
He went on to become an influential writer, dominating English 
economic and political thought from about 1843 to about 1874. He 
was the prophet of the middle-class revolution, a Member of Parlia- 
ment for three years and in Parliament indeed for the passing of the 
Reform Bill of 1867. His best-known work, perhaps, was his essay 
On Liberty of 1859. He died in 1873, leaving as his chief legacy a body 
of doctrine concerning 'free competition, free trade, freedom of 
opinion, of speech, of writing and of action'.^ 

In comparing John Stuart Mill with Bentham we must remember 
that they lived in different periods. Mill was not only heir to the 
Utilitarian philosophy; he was also a witness of its immediate 
results. He watched the slowprocessby which (with successive exten- 
sions of the franchise) the voting power in England passed from the 
upper to the lower middle class and so to the working class itself. 
There is no need to enter here into a detailed description of how this 
came about. The story has been told repeatedly and is exceptional 
only in that the English aristocracy was remarkably adroit in avoid- 
ing revolution. And yet it may be that there is occasion to remark on 
one or two stages of the process which are not always sufficiently 
emphasised. The aristocracy, firmly entrenched under the first two 
Hanoverian kings and justified by the success of the Seven Years 
War, had to meet, after 1763, George Ill's attempt to restore the 
royal power. In defeating that attempt (in America, deliberately) the 
great families reached the height of their power. Thenceforward their 
influence declined and the younger Pitt, taught by Lord Shelburne, 
did his best to hasten the process. He called in the middle-class to 
his aid. Failing in his attempt at parliamentary reform he tried to 
gain his purpose by other means. 

... He created a plebeian aristocracy and blended it with the patrician 
oligarchy. He made peers of second-rate squires and fat graziers. He 
caught them in the alleys of Lombard Street, and clutched them from 
the counting-houses of Cornhill. When Mr. Pitt, in an age of Bank 
restriction, declared that every man with an estate of ten thousand a 
year had a right to be a peer, he sounded the knell of 'the cause for 
which Hampden had died on the field, and Sydney on the scaffold'. - 

According to Disraeli, Lord Shelburne 'was the first great minister 
who comprehended the rising importance of the middle class'. That 
is why Jeremy Bentham was invited to Bowood. His views accorded 

' The Social and Political Ideas of some Representative Thinkers of the Age of Reaction 
and Reconstruction, 1815-65. Ed. by F. J. C. Hearnshaw. London, 1932. p. 132. 
- Sybil, or the Two Nations. Benjamin Disraeli. London, 1954. p. 29. 


with those of Shelburne and Pitt, and Utilitarianism essentially 
represents their policy, more especially on the economic side. 
Bentham was no tool of the politicians but he had been in close 
touch with one of the ablest statesmen of the day. He was going with, 
not against, the tide. 

If comparisons suggest themselves between the history of ancient 
Rome and of modern Britain, the points of resemblance are not 
coincidental. They passed through similar phases of growth and 
decay. But, apart from that, the English aristocracy had been 
educated in the classics. People like Shelburne and Pitt — people, for 
that matter, like Bentham — knew all about Marius, the Gracchi, 
Livius Drusus and Sulla. They knew more about them than they did 
about King John or Queen Elizabeth. The result was that they with- 
drew almost instinctively from untenable positions. They gave way, 
moreover, gracefully. The technique, however, in which they special- 
ised was that of retaining a ministry in office on the understanding 
that they would adopt the measures of the opposition. Looking back, 
it is difficult to recall which liberal measures were introduced by 
Whigs and which by Tories. More recently, it is as difficult to 
remember, of sociahst legislation, which Act is attributable to which 
party. Ministers do what they realise will have to be done. The 
transfer of power, therefore, from the classes to the masses has been 
in one sense faster, in another sense slower, than is often perceived. 
The measures have changed more readily than the men. The transition 
from aristocracy to democracy was slow as represented by the 
composition of Parliament and Cabinet. And while the types of 
Prime Minister in office admittedly passed through the gradations 
from Lord Melbourne to Asquith, it was not until the appoint- 
ment of Lloyd George in 1916 that Britain saw a Prime Minister 
who was not, by any contemporary standard, a gentleman.^ 

John Stuart Mill thus witnessed in his lifetime a great deal of what 
Bentham foresaw. Nor was Britain his only example of a growing 
democracy. Italy and Switzerland had modern constitutions from 
1848. The United States became more democratic in character after 
the Civil War which ended in 1865. The constitution of Austria- 
Hungary, adopted in 1867, provided in Austria a House of Rep- 
resentatives, to which the members were directly elected from 1873. 
There was even a Liberal ministry in office from 1871 to 1879. The 

' Of 35 previous Prime Ministers, 27 had been the sons of landowners. The younger 
Pitt and Perceval had been barristers but were well connected. Addington was the first 
of middle-class origin, being son of a physician. Canning was son of a barrister. Peel 
of a cotton manufacturer, Gladstone of a shipowner. Disraeli, the novelist, was an 
exception but practically all Prime Ministers down to and including Gladstone were 
men of wealth or family. Campbeil-Bannerman (1905) broke precedent in having 
actually been in business as a wholesale draper, but even he was a Cambridge man. 
H. H. Asquith, barrister and son of a woollen manufacturer, had been educated at 
Balliol. Lloyd George started life without any advantage of any kind. 


German Empire was brought into existence in 1871, the constitution 
providing for a Reichstag, elected on a system of practically universal 
suffrage. France became a Republic again in 1875 with a democratic 
constitution, a President, a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. 
Switzerland had a constitutional revision in 1874 which strengthened 
the position of the Federal as opposed to the Canton institutions but 
also provided for a direct appeal to the people by referendum. Brazil 
became a Republic in 1889 and even Spain introduced universal 
suffrage in 1890. It is true that the powers of these elected assemblies 
varied considerably, those of the Reichstag for example, being mainly 
advisory, and those of the Austrian Reichsrath vested as much in the 
Herrenhaus as in the House of Representatives. Nevertheless there 
were few countries so behind the times as to refrain from going 
through the motions of democracy. Alexander II was about to 
introduce a measure of democracy in Russia when he was assas- 
sinated in 1881. It is not too great a generalisation to say that rep- 
resentative democracy was the fashion in the last quarter of the 
nineteenth century.^ 

To a conservatively-minded thinker, which John Stuart Mill was 
not, the course of this democratic flood was a matter for alarm. It is 
interesting to see how the process was viewed, for example, by 
Joseph Conrad, in 1885. 

. . . every disreputable ragamuffin in Europe feels that the day of 
universal brotherhood, dispoliation and disorder is coming apace, 
and nurses day-dreams of well-plenished pockets amongst the ruin of 
all that is respectable, venerable and holy. The great British Empire 
went over the edge, and yet on to the inclined plane of social progress 
and radical reform. The downward movement is hardly perceptible 
yet, and the clever men who started it may flatter themselves with the 
progress; but they will soon find that the fate of the nation is out of 
their hands now! The Alpine avalanche rolls quicker and quicker as it 
nears the abyss — its ultimate destination! Where's the man to stop 
the crashing avalanche? 

Where's the man to stop the rush of social-democratic ideas ? The 
opportunity and the day have come and are gone! Believe me: gone 
forever! For the sun is set and the last barrier removed. England was 
the only barrier to the pressure of infernal doctrines born in continental 
back-slums. Now, there is nothing! The destiny of the nation and of all 
nations is to be accomplished in darkness amidst much weeping and 
gnashing of teeth, to pass through robbery, equality, anarchy and 
misery under the iron rule of a military despotism! Such is the lesson 
of common sense logic. 

Socialism must inevitably end in Caesarism.^ 

' See Governments and Parties in Continental Europe. A. Lawrence Lowell. London, 
1896. (2 Vols.) See also A Short History of Democracy. A. F. Hattersley. Cambridge, 

'Joseph Conrad, Life and Letters. G. Jean Aubry. London, 1927. 2 vols. Vol. I. p. 84. 


Prophetic as this passage may seem, events were to move more 
slowly than Conrad anticipated. The working class did not gain 
control of England until the period 1910-21, nor were the results of 
that control immediately experienced. But there was cause for 
anxiety, and one man who shared that anxiety was John Stuart Mill. 

Mill's anxiety was lest Bentham's democracy and Bentham's 
freedom might be found incompatible with each other. While govern- 
ment was vested in King or Peerage there might be considerable 
support for any proposals made to limit the power of government; 
especially its powers of interference in trade, in conduct, in morals 
and opinion. But the tendency of the nineteenth century was to secure 
for the people the control of the government itself. 

By degrees this new demand for elective and temporary rulers be- 
came the prominent object of the exertions of the popular party, 
wherever any such party existed; and superseded, to a considerable 
extent the previous efforts to limit the power of rulers. As the struggle 
proceeded for making the ruling power emanate from the periodical 
choice of the ruled, some persons began to think that too much im- 
portance had been attached to the limitation of the power itself. That 
(it might seem) was a resource against rulers whose interests were 
habitually opposed to those of the people. What was now wanted was 
that the rulers should be identified with the people; that their 
interest and will should be the interest and will of the nation. The 
nation did not need to be protected against its own will. There was 
no fear of its tyrannizing over itself. . . . 

But, in political and philosophical theories, as well as in persons, 
success discloses faults and infirmities which failure might have 
concealed. . . } 

Mill perceives, in fact, that a democratic government may persecute 
a minority and abolish freedom in a way that a king neither can nor 
dare. So he makes his plea for liberty as against the tendency of 
the age. 

Apart from the peculiar tenets of individual thinkers, there is also in 
the world at large an increasing inclination to stretch unduly the powers 
of society over the individual, both by the force of opinion and even by 
legislation: and as the tendency of all the changes taking place in the 
world is to strengthen society, and diminish the power of the indi- 
vidual, this encroachment is not one of the evils which tend spon- 
taneously to disappear, but, on the contrary, to grow more and more 
formidable. The disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow 
citizens, to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of 
conduct on others, is so energetically supported by some of the best 
and by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature, that it is 
hardly ever kept under restraint by anything but want of power; and 

' On Liberty. Representative Government. The Subjection of Women. Three essays by 
John Stuart Mill. 


as the power is not declining, but growing, unless a strong barrier of 
moral conviction can be raised against the mischief, we must expect, 
in the present circumstances of the world, to see it increase.^ 

Mill then makes his plea for liberty as against the tendency of the 
day. He rather assumes than proves his initial position, that: 

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person 
were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in 
silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be 
justified in silencing mankind. 

This view Mill goes on to illustrate with historical examples, such 
as those of Socrates and Christ, to show that the one may be right 
and mankind wrong. But, he argues, even if we suppose mankind 
to be right, the orthodox cannot even understand their orthodoxy 
until they have heard — if only to refute — the arguments against it. 
Beliefs accepted, he maintains, and never argued have little influence 
upon conduct. Apart frorh that, the likelihood is that the truth lies 
halfway between the orthodox and the heretic. Popular opinions are 
seldom the whole truth, and it is only by dispute that the truth can 
be ascertained. As for those who admit the need for free discussion 
but not 'pushed to an extreme', they fail to realise that unless the 
reasons justifying free discussion hold good in an extreme case they 
do not hold good at all.^ 

In Chapter 3 Mill complains again of the danger to the individual: 

. . . society has now fairly got the better of individuality; and the 
danger which threatens human nature is not the excess, but the 
deficiency of personal impulses and preferences. Things are vastly 
changed, since the passions of those who were strong by station or by 
personal endowment were in a state of habitual rebellion against laws 
and ordinances. ... In our times, from the highest class of society down 
to the lowest, every one lives as under the eye of a hostile and dreaded 
censorship. ... I do not mean that they choose what is customary, in 
preference to what suits their own inclination. It does not occur to 
them to have any inclination, except for what is customary ... by dint 
of not following their own nature, they have no nature to follow. . . .^ 

He sees in this a sort of Calvinism by which everything not a duty is 
a sin. He pleads that originality is valuable and that people of original 
minds need freedom — 'these few are the salt of the earth; without 
them, human life would become a stagnant pool'. Unfortunately, 
'Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the 
use of and 'the general tendency of things throughout the world is 
to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind'. 

' Mill. op. cit. p. 20. 
"- Ibid. p. 29. 
= Ibid. p. 69. 


No government by a democracy or a numerous aristocracy, either 
in its political acts or in the opinions, qualities and tone of mind which 
it fosters, ever did or ever could rise above mediocrity, except in so 
far as the sovereign. Many have let themselves be guided (which in 
their best times they have always done) by the counsels and influence 
of a more highly gifted and instructed One or Few. The initiation of all 
wise or noble things, comes and must come from individuals. . . .^ 

Such individuals are resisted by the lovers of what is customary. 
Mill then asserts that it is custom which rules the East and that it has 
killed progress there in killing originality. 

We have a warning example in China — a nation of much talent, and, 
in some respects, even wisdom, owing to the rare good fortune of 
having been provided at an early period with a particularly good set of 
customs, the work, in some measure, of men to whom even the most 
enlightened European must accord, under certain limitations, the 
title of sages and philosophers. They are remarkable, too, in the 
excellence of their apparatus for impressing, as far as possible, the 
best wisdom they possess upon every mind in the community, and 
securing that those who have appropriated most of it shall occupy the 
posts of honour and power. . . . They have succeeded beyond all hope 
in what English philanthropists are so industriously working at — in 
making a people all alike, all governing their thoughts and conduct by 
the same maxims and rules; and these are the fruits. - 

By the fruits Mill means stagnation. Europe, he thinks, has avoided 
this stagnation through the European diversity of character and 
culture. But this diversity, in England, is rapidly diminishing as 
political changes 'tend to raise the low and to lower the high' — both 
in station and education. Improved communications and trade have 
the same effect. 

The demand that all other people shall resemble ourselves, grows by 
what it feeds on. If resistance waits till life is reduced nearly to one 
uniform type, all deviations from that type will come to be considered 
impious, immoral, even monstrous and contrary to nature. Mankind 
speedily become unable to conceive diversity, when they have been 
for some time unaccustomed to see it.^ 

So Mill goes on to discuss what limits there should be to the 
authority, not merely of the State but of society, over the individual. 
He has no difficulty in showing that the State and society have no 
right to interfere in matters which concern only the individual. He 
gives instances of laws based on religion rather than upon public 
utility; and had he lived longer could have mentioned more. He gives 
instances ofliberty (when based on no real principle) being excessive, 

' Mill. op. cit. p. 82. 
' Ibid. p. 88. 
Ubid. p. 91. 


as in the parent's right to educate or neglect his child. He is opposed, 
on the other hand, to the nationalisation of schools, for 'a general 
State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be 
exactly like one another'. It also 'establishes a despotism over the 
mind'. The most he will approve in this direction is a public exam- 
ination, to ensure that parents do their duty. Not that he leaves 
unquestioned the right of people to become parents at all, for in an 
over-populated country 'to produce children, beyond a very small 
number ... is a serious offence'. His argument, in short, is that 
questions of authority and reasonable interference should be divorced 
from religion and prejudice and solved on the general principle of 

The principle of utility certainly allows Mill to tread a narrow 
path between tyranny and licence. He sees dangers on either side but 
is more impressed by the perils of interference than the perils of 
neglect. Even when it does not infringe on liberty, government inter- 
vention is open, he considers, to three general objections.^ To begin 
with, the individual normally knows his own business best. Even 
if he does not, his freedom to choose is a means of education and 
development. Finally the effect of state guidance is to dwarf the 
individual; and it is of individuals that society is composed. He 
describes in memorable words the situation which would result from 

If the roads, the railways, the banks, the insurance offices, the great 
joint-stock companies, the universities, and the public charities, were 
all of them branches of the government; if, in addition, the municipal 
corporations and local boards, with all that now devolves on them, 
became departments of the central administration; if the employees of 
all these different enterprises were appointed and paid by the govern- 
ment, and looked to the government for every rise in life; not all the 
freedom of the press and popular constitution of the legislature 
would make this or any other country free otherwise than in name. 
And the evil would be greater, the more efficiently and scientifically 
the administrative machinery was constructed — the more skilful the 
arrangements for obtaining the best qualified hands and heads with 
which to work it. In England it has of late been proposed that all the 
members of the civil service of government should be selected by 
competitive examination, to obtain for those employments the most 
intelligent and instructed persons procurable. . . . [He supposes, for the 
sake of argument, that the State should, by this device, secure the 
service of all the ablest men]. . . . If every part of the business of society 
which required organised concert, or large and comprehensive views, 
were in the hands of government, and if government offices were 
universally filled by the ablest men, all the enlarged culture and 

' Mill. op. cit. p. 133. 


practised intelligence in the country, except the purely speculative, 
would be concentrated in a numerous bureaucracy, to whom alone the 
rest of the community would look for all things: the multitude for 
direction and dictation in all they had to do; the able and aspiring for 
personal advancement. To be admitted into the ranks of this bureau- 
cracy, and when admitted, to rise therein, would be the sole object of 
ambition. . . . Such is the melancholy condition of the Russian empire, 
as shown in the accounts of those who have had sufficient opportunity 
of observation.^ 

Such is still the melancholy condition of the Russian Empire, as 
shown in the accounts of those who have had sufficient opportunity 
of observation. Such is also the melancholy condition, for all prac- 
tical purposes, of the British Empire. Our further experience mostly 
goes towards proving the rule that the most successful administration 
produces the most complete serfdom. And Mill explains what the 
further disadvantages must be. 

It is not, also, to be forgotten, that the absorption of all the principal 
ability of the country into the governing body is fatal, sooner or later, 
to the mental activity and progressiveness of the body itself. Banded 
together as they are — working a system which, like all systems, 
necessarily proceeds in a great measure by fixed rules — the officials are 
under the constant temptation of sinking into indolent routine, or, if 
they now and then desert that mill-horse round, of rushing into some 
half-examined crudity which has struck the fancy of some leading 
member of the corps. . . .'" 

Coming from one who never perhaps heard ot groundnuts and to 
whom Crichel Down would have meant nothing, this last sentence 
reveals an almost uncanny accuracy of prediction. 

Mill ends his famous essay by attempting to fix the point at which 
'much of the advantages of centralised power and intelligence' can 
be gained 'without turning into governmental channels too great a 
proportion of the general activity'. The principle which he advocates 
is: 'the greatest dissemination of power consistent with efficiency; but 
the greatest possible centralisation of information, and diffusion of it 
from the centre'. He realises, of course, the difficulty of judging the 
point at which decentralisation becomes muddle. He thinks, however, 
that the mischief of over-administration begins when 'instead of 
calling forth the activity and powers of individuals and bodies, it 
substitutes its own activity for theirs'. He concludes finally that, 

... a State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more 
docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find 
that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished : and 

' Mill. op. cit. p. 135. 
'Ibid. p. 138. 


that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, 
will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in 
order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to 

Far longer than his essay on Liberty is Mill's essay on Representative 
Government} He asks in Chapter II what is the criterion of a good 
form of government. He answers that government should be judged, 
in the first place, by the degree in which it tends to increase the sum of 
good qualities in the governed, taking these both collectively and 
individually. It should be judged, in the second place, by the efficiency 
with which it harnesses these qualities for public ends. Only a 
'completely popular government' has this character. But direct 
democracy, as he admits, is possible only in a small town. Democracy 
on a larger scale must be representative, and representative govern- 
ment is therefore 'the ideal type of the most perfect polity', although 
not all peoples are fit to have it or able to do their duties under it. He 
then goes on to a detailed description of an extended suffrage, 
methods of election, ballot, duration of elected office, second 
chambers, executive, federations and colonies. Basically, his argu- 
ment is more convincing than all earlier reasonings about natural 
law, implied contracts and the rights of man. Mill very properly 
holds that government is to be judged by results, not by theories as 
to how it may have originated. Whether his two criteria are the best 
is another matter and raises some doubt as to what 'good qualities' 
are. But, without criticising the validity of his reasoning, let us note 
what his conclusions are. He believes in representative democracy, 
with votes for all. While he does not assert (and indeed practically 
denies) that all men are born equal, he does urge that they should have 
equal rights as citizens and voters. He advocates political equality. 

The inherent contradiction in Mill's position is obvious. His argu- 
ment about political equality can lead only to socialism. There can 
be no equality between millionaires and paupers. Votes for all are a 
mockery where there are vast differences in wealth. If citizens are to 
be politically equal it is absurd to allow one man to control six news- 
papers while another controls nothing — not even himself. But how 
can these inequalities be prevented? By just such governmental 
interference and confiscation as Mill has already rejected in the name 
of liberty. His two doctrines are incompatible. He wants to equalise 
citizens as voters while simultaneously freeing them as traders. The 
result can only be the nationalisation of industries, the probably fatal 
results of which Mill was himself the first to point out. The measures 
taken to ensure equality — the measures taken indeed as a result of 

' MilL op. cit. p. 14 L 
' If)i(t. p. 157. 


that equality — are those certain to destroy the freedom in which Mill 
so passionately believed. He was manifestly uneasy about his whole 
position. He played with and even recommended devices like propor- 
tional representation and even plural voting for the highly educated 
or intelligent. He opposed secret voting and the payment of deputies 
while demanding votes for women. In some of his arguments it is 
difficult to see even the principles of Utilitarianism; he seems rather 
to be guided by mere preference. But no devices of voting or electing 
could help him to escape from the dilemma in which, like so many 
later theorists, he had become involved. To his main problem he could 
find no answer; probably because there is none. 


Democracy carried to its Logical Conclusion 

JEREMY BENTHAM'S doctrine that the individual knows his 
own business best remained the gospel in England until about 
1874. The industrialisation of Britain between about 1840 and 1874 
was unhampered by State interference except in very minor details. 
To say that this was due to Bentham's influence would, of course, be 
wrong. But those who had already decided against intervention 
could and did quote the utilitarians when justifying their inaction. 
The unimpeded growth of the manufacturing towns brought wealth 
to many, and with wealth came political power. The English aris- 
tocracy, reinforced successively by West India Merchants, East 
India Nabobs, Shipping Magnates and Cotton Manufacturers, was 
expanded again to include Hardware Manufacturers, Stockbrokers, 
Railway Directors and Engineers. We read much in the literature of 
the period of the social difficulties experienced by the newly prosper- 
ous; nor were these wholly imaginary. But the two basic facts were 
these: the successful manufacturers mostly wanted to join the 
aristocracy and the aristocracy would usually admit them. It would 
perhaps be truer to say that it was the manufacturer's wife who 
wanted to be a lady and her daughter who became one. The effect, 
however, was the same. Had the newly rich wanted to destroy 
aristocracy as such, and had the aristocracy been exclusive, the 
history of England would have been different. There would have been 

As it was, the privileges of aristocracy were extended to an ever- 
widening circle. This probably happens in any aristocracy. In England 
it was accelerated, however, by the development of the public schools 
(a by-product of the railways) as a device for assimilating the middle 
class into the aristocracy. These schools catered not only for the 
wealthy but for the merely professional and aspiring. Partly as a 
result of this educational device there was soon very little social gulf 
between those with five thousand and those with fifty thousand a 
year; and less, if anything, between those with two and those with 
six generations of established wealth behind them. Clergy, Lawyers 
and Physicians claimed to rank as gentlemen. Bankers tried to look 
like Lawyers and Schoolmasters dressed as Clergy, the Merchant had 
his commission in the Volunteers and the Moneylender his place in 



the country. A sort of shabby gentility extended down to commercial 
travellers and clerks. There was no threat to aristocracy from those 
who believed themselves to be on the fringes of it. 

There were always, however, a number of the more or less pros- 
perous who were opposed to aristocracy on principle. These were the 
nonconformists, sundered from their social betters by an abyss of 
their own digging. Some of the seventeenth century sects still survived 
but these were somewhat overshadowed by the Methodist groups of 
eighteenth century origin. The Victorian nonconformists were well 
fitted to take advantage of the economic opportunities of their day 
and many of them became prominent in the life of the industrial 
towns. It was always manifest that the nonconformist (unless a 
Quaker) could not be a gentleman as well. He disapproved of the 
gentry as frivolous and immoral, addicted to wine, gambling, horse- 
racing, theatre-going and profanity. He did not aspire to join them in 
the hunting field or the officers' mess. He did not wish to be seen in 
the ballroom, on the grouse-moor or even in the bar parlour. He 
disapproved of the public schools and his sons were as effectively 
excluded from college by their upbringing as by the law. His surplus 
energies went in organising temperance societies and sabbath-day 
schools. He came nearest to conviviality at a Chapel tea-party and 
nearest to pleasure in deploring the moral shortcomings of others. 
The nonconformist was the natural leader of democracy. It was under 
his guidance that the more extreme liberals became socialists. The 
result is that English, as opposed to continental, socialism has always 
retained an aura of dissent, a faint taste of cocoa and a just percep- 
tible odour of pitch-pine pews, it is connected, not of necessity but 
by historical association, with total abstinence, adult education and 
that slight untidiness which goes with home-woven tweed. Many of 
those concerned in the early Labour movement had, in addition, 
some family connection with earlier Radicals or with the Chartist 
Movement of 1838-48. They knew about Robert Owen and had read 
the works of John Stuart Mill. 

Although, however, there were drawing-room Marxists before 
1874, it was not they who began the move towards socialism. It was 
the Tory leader, Disraeli, who took the decisive step; not perhaps 
through any belief in democracy but from a recognition of the 
inevitable. He had a great sympathy for the working man but few 
illusions about democracy as such. 

... If you establish a democracy, you must in due season reap the 
fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of 
the public burdens combined in due season with great increase of the 
public expenditure. You will in due season reap the fruits of such 
united influence. You will in due season have wars entered into from 


passion, and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to 
peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will 
diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. 
You will, in due season, with a democracy find that your property is less 
valuable and that your freedom is less complete.^ 

It was Disraeli, nevertheless, who introduced the Reform Bill of 
1867, doubling the number of voters. The Liberals gained the first 
election on the new register but the newly enfranchised artisans soon 
turned against liberalism. They wanted, not the protection of private 
enterprise against interference but the protection of the working man 
against private enterprise. They wanted exactly what the Benthamites 
had always denied them. They voted, therefore, for the Conservatives, 
bringing Disraeli back to office in 1874. And it was Disraeli who gave 
the British their first experience of virtually socialist legislation. An 
Act of 1874 limited the working week to 56 hours. By an Act of 1875, 
the Trades Unions were legalised. A Public Health Act of 1876 and 
an Artisans' Dwelling Act were fresh evidence of a new trend in 
legislation. Disraeli might be accepted by the aristocrats but he had 
been brought into power by working-class votes. 

From about 1875 the English socialists began to diverge from the 
Liberal Party of which they had once formed the left wing. The two 
working-class members of parliament elected in 1874 found them- 
selves more often voting with the Conservatives. But the views of 
other socialists began to become more extreme. This was partly due 
to the great Trade Depression of 1877-78, which seemed to prove what 
the Marxists said about the impending doom of capitalism. Then 
came the bad harvest of 1879. 

... It rained continuously. Everywhere the harvest blackened in the 
fields, and farmers were faced with ruin, landlords with depleted 
rentals. In England and Wales alone three million sheep died of rot. 
Meanwhile industry struggled against one of those periodic slumps 
which seemed inseparable from the capitalist system . . . for industry 
the trade depression of the early eighties was only a passing phase. . . . 
But for English agriculture the blackened crops of 1879 and the years 
of continued rain and cold that followed marked the end of an era. It 
never recovered.^ 

This turning point in the national way of life was another factor in 
the rise of socialism. It could hardly have achieved the same measure 
of success in a largely agricultural society. 

While parting company with the liberals the early socialists also 
tended to differ among themselves. Most of the socialist societies 
were more or less united in the Social Democratic Federation, which 

^ Life of Disraeli. Monypenny and Buckle. Vol. L p. 1608. 
^English Saga, 1840-1940. Arthur Bryant. London, 1953. p. 267. 


was inspired by Marxism and led by H. M. Hyndman. There was also, 
however, the Independent Labour Party, led by James Keir Hardie 
and drawing its support from the Trades Unions. Then there was 
founded, in 1885, the Fabian Society, with a more intellectual 
membership gathered round Sidney Webb, H. G. Wells, and George 
Bernard Shaw. Before that, in 1884, the Social Democratic Federation 
— which had failed to obtain much working-class support — split in 
two. The Federation lived on, with Hyndman and John Burns as 
leaders, but William Morris, Crane, Bax, Eleanor Marx and their 
friends left it to form the Socialist League, which ultimately died out. 
It is doubtful whether William Morris can be counted as a socialist 
at all. He should rather perhaps be classed, with Gandhi, as a 
democrat who saw the evil in industrialism itself irrespective of its 
private or state ownership. He wanted to reverse the whole trend of 
the period in which he lived. The genuine socialists, including Webb 
and Shaw, accepted industrialism and were mainly concerned with its 
immediate and less immediate implications. 

Events which mark the progress of the Labour Movement are the 
Trafalgar Square riots of 1887, led by John Burns and Cunninghame 
Graham; the London Dock strike of 1889; the publication of William 
Morris's News from Nowhere in 1890; the Trades Union Congress 
reaching a membership of about 1,200,000 in 1892; and finally, in 
1899, the decision of the Trades Union Congress to seek to gain 
increased representation for the Labour Movement. This led to 
fifteen Labour candidates standing for Parliament in 1900, of whom 
two were elected. In 1906 there was an electoral triumph for Liberal- 
Labour candidates, twenty-nine being elected, the Miners' Federation 
gaining fourteen seats for itself. It was not very clear, at this stage, 
what the Labour Party's principles were. Their programme and 
party organisation began to appear in 1908. This narrative omits, 
however, the most important aspect of the Movement. For Liberals 
and Conservatives each adopted virtually socialist measures in 
response to, or anticipating, Labour demands. These included the 
Local Government Act of 1888, the Housing Act of 1890, the Act by 
which education was provided free of charge in 1891, the imposition 
of Death Duties in 1893 and the Workmen's Compensation Act of 
1897. Both through central and local governments, the members of 
the Fabian Society were able to secure many of their objects even 
before 1906. 

Between 1906 and 1914 there were many further reforms, many of 
them initiated by Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. 
Acts provided for the feeding and medical inspection of school- 
children, for limiting the coal miner to an eight-hour working day, 
for fixing a minimum wage in certain industries, for setting up Labour 


Exchanges, for Housing and Town Planning and for Old Age 
Pensions. The House of Lords, attempting to resist Lloyd George's 
Budget of 1909, lost its effective power under the Parliament Act of 
191 1. When Lloyd George became Prime Minister in 1916 the English 
Revolution had been virtually accomplished. The War finished what 
pre-war legislation had begun. The way was prepared for the first 
Labour Government of 1923, the General Strike of 1926 and the 
second Labour Government of 1929. Roughly speaking, Britain had 
become a pure democracy by 1910, with an evident tendency towards 
socialism. Successive Ministers, of whatever party, had to compete 
for votes by offering higher benefits to the poor and laying heavier 
taxes on the rich. The levelling-out process may not be complete but 
the trend is towards its completion and the achievement of a virtually 
socialist society. 

The British experience in progressing from democracy to socialism 
was closely paralleled in other countries as from about the same 
period. Socialism was strongly established in Germany from the 
1860''s and led to legislation of a more or less socialist character. 
Ferdinand Lassalle had led the German Workers Union until his 
death in 1864, the Union thereafter merging with the Marxists to 
form the Social-Democratic Party in 1875. This was suppressed by 
Bismarck in 1878 after an attempt had been made to assassinate the 
Emperor. Socialism revived, nevertheless, and Bismarck tried to fore- 
stall the movement by legislation of his own, which was continued 
after his fall in 1890. Trade Laws were introduced in 1881 and sub- 
sequently; compulsory insurance against sickness in 1883; insurance 
against industrial accidents in 1884; old age pensions in 1889; and a 
Workers' Protection Law, which restricted the hours of work in 1891. 
The Socialists were not discouraged and by 1903 they numbered three 
million voters and held eighty-one seats in the Reichstag. Their success 
was limited, however, by their Marxist violence and talk of revolution. 
They lost their influence in 1914. 

The French Socialists, well established by 1880, were also under 
Marxist influence but suff'ered from disagreement among themselves. 
They had split by 1890 into four groups, the French Labour Party, 
the Federation of Socialist Workers, the Socialist Revolutionaries and 
the Anarchists. Members of the last-named group managed to 
assassinate the President of the Republic in 1894. Despite such 
episodes as that the various groups (by now well represented in the 
Chamber) managed to agree on a programme in 1896. This was the 
work of Jaures and Millerand and led to socialist success in the 
elections of 1902. But Marxist dogmatism soon produced fresh 
disagreements as a result of which the moderate socialists took oflRce 
as liberals. One of these, Briand, was Prime Minister in 1906. Jaures 


devoted himself to pacifist propaganda and was assassinated in 1912. 

Socialism in Italy dates from about 1890 but was made illegal in 
1894. More socialists having been elected at the elections of 1895, the 
party was again legalised. The liberals, moreover, introduced (in 
1896-1905) compulsory insurance against industrial accidents and 
sickness, old age pensions and further legislation concerning public 
health, hours of work, subsidised housing and labour exchanges. The 
Italian Socialists thus gained an indirect success and were still 
numerous when Mussolini was editing the Avanti in 1912. They 
organised a General Strike in Emilia in 1914 but their activities 
were then cut short by the beginning of the First World War. 

Socialism in the United States appeared in 1910 when Woodrow 
Wilson was first heard of as Democratic candidate for the Governor- 
ship of New Jersey. Wilson was then regarded as a conservative. 
When elected as President, however, in 1913, he proclaimed the 
New Freedom. This involved a graduated income tax in favour of the 
poor, a basic eight-hour day for railwaymen and other workers and 
the establishment of Boards of Mediation to arbitrate in industrial 
disputes. It was a small beginning, although a foretaste of F. D. 
Roosevelt's New Deal of 1933, but it was an illustration of the fact 
that even the United States was experiencing, belatedly and to a 
limited extent, the influence of socialist ideas. 

The general conclusion to be drawn is that democracy in Europe, 
fairly widely established by 1875, began its movement towards social- 
ism in about that year. The movement developed strongly in the 
period 1880-1900, most Socialist ideas having reached their virtually 
final form by about 1895. There was a peak of politiccil success in 
1902-1906 but soon afterwards a loss of direction and impetus. The 
Marxist groups still demanded revolution as an end in itself, as an 
essential step in progress. The more moderate groups found that their 
original demands had been largely met and that what remained of 
their programme seemed within reach by constitutional means. One 
formerly regarded as a rebel could end, like Sidney Webb, with a 
peerage. There was a pause during which the extremists, who now 
held the initiative, prepared the way for the next move. Socialism in its 
democratic form was intellectually finished before 1912; finished, in 
fact, before it reached America at all. It was stagnant after the First 
World War when the counter-offensive began. It needed no killing. 
It was already dead. 

In the field of strictly political ideas, the Socialists had little to 
contribute. Accepting the liberal notion of political equality, they 
simply pointed out that it was meaningless unless coupled with 
economic equality. They merely carried the doctrine to its logical 
conclusion. Some of them, it is true, wrestled with the basic idea of 


Equality, trying to justify it in other than rehgious terms. Such is the 
book called Equality by R. H. Tawney, published in 1931 and 
dedicated to Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Tawney does not so much 
defend Equality as ask what justification there can be for inequality. 
He concludes that, 

... it is the mark of a civilised society to aim at eliminating such 
inequalities as have their source not in individual diflferences, but in its 
own organisation, and that individual differences, which are a source of 
social energy, are more likely to ripen and find expression if social 
inequalities are, as far as practicable, diminished.^ 

Other authors have struggled with the same problem, notably 
David Thomson,'- but usually with the air of finding reasons for 
something already generally agreed, a policy which no sane man could 
really propose to reverse. Apart from discussions such as these, the 
British Socialists have mostly been glad to accept Parliamentary 
Government as they found it. The Webbs once proposed having two 
Parliaments instead of one but the rest have shown little interest in 
political theory or in any but economic reforms. Political wisdom 
ends for them with the establishment of Universal Suffrage. 

While there is little to say about the political thought of the 
Socialists, it would be wrong to conclude this chapter without mention 
of the two thinkers of the Socialist period in Britain, whose views, in 
retrospect, seem most significant. One of these was George Bernard 
Shaw, an important member of the Fabian Society in its early days 
but never an accepted leader of the Labour Party. He was the most 
original thinker the English Socialists ever had among them and he 
proved too original at times for their liking. What is especially 
interesting, however, about his line of thought is that he came to 
think socialism more important than democracy. For him, as for 
many less gifted, socialism itself had become the aim and democracy 
at best the means. Democracy for him came to have a special mean- 
ing; one which the actual politicians may have shared but could never 
have publicly avowed. 

Democracy means the organization of society for the benefit and at 
the expense of everybody indiscriminately and not for the benefit of a 
privileged class. 

A nearly desperate difficulty in the way of its realization is the 
delusion that the method of securing it is to give votes to everybody, 
which is the one certain method of defeating it. Adult suffrage kills it 
dead. Highminded and well-informed people desire it; but they are in 
a negligible minority at the polling stations. Mr. Everybody, as 
Voltaire called him — and we must now include Mrs. Everybody and 

' Equality. R. H. Tawney. London, 195L 

- Equality. David Thomson. Cambridge, 1949. 


Miss Everybody — far from desiring the great development of public 
organization and governmental activity which democracy involves, 
has a dread of being governed at all. . . .^ 

He goes on to explain the ignorance and indifference of the voter 
and the reluctance of the intelligent person to take any part in politics. 
Only a few are fit to take part in public affairs. 

I do not see any way out of this difficulty as long as our democrats 
persist in assuming that Mr. Everyman is omniscient as well as 
ubiquitous, and refuse to reconsider the suffrage in the light of facts 
and commonsense. How much control of the Government does Mr. 
Everyman need to protect himself against tyranny? How much is he 
capable of exercising without ruining himself and wrecking civiliza- 
tion? Are these questions really unanswerable? T think not. . . . 

It is a matter of simple natural history that humans vary widely in 
political competence. They vary not only from individual to individual 
but from age to age in the same individual. In the face of this flat fact 
it is silly to go on pretending that the voice of the people is the voice of 
God. When Voltaire said that Mr. Everybody was wiser than Mr. 
Anybody he had never seen adult suffrage at work. It takes all sorts to 
make a world; and to maintain civilization some of these sorts have to 
be killed like mad dogs whilst others have to be put in command of the 
State. Until the differences are classified we cannot have a scientific 
suffrage; and without a scientific suffrage every attempt at democracy 
will defeat itself as it has always done.^ 

Although he concedes that average or representative people should 
have the means of voicing their grievances,^ he maintains that 'The 
legislators and rulers should, on the contrary, be as unrepresentative 
of Everyman as possible, short of being inhuman'. He wants to have 
people classified and graded according to their political competence, 
not to abolish elections altogether but to eliminate all candidates 
without the necessary mental and moral qualifications for office. He 
writes an interesting chapter (Chap. XXXVI op. cit.) on the kinds of 
test which might be used to grade citizens according to their political 
competence. And he complains, in his summary* that 'we never dream 
of asking whether a Secretary of State has ever heard of Macaulay or 
Marx, nor even whether he can read the alphabet'. 

There is much in this of lasting value and interest but he does not 
explain how to take the franchise from people who have quite recently 
been granted it. He discards democracy — using the word to describe 
something else — and demands a new and better constitution. But who 
can approve it in a democratic state? Who can persuade the people 

' Everybody's Political What's What. Bernard Shaw. London, 1944. pp. 40-41. 

- Bernard Shaw. op. cit. pp. 45-46. 

^ That is, in a second or Social Parliament as proposed by the Webbs. 

^ Bernard Shaw. op. cit. p. 366. 


to surrender the most part of their theoretical or actual powers? Who 
but a dictator could create and empower the aristocracy which Shaw 
wishes to see established? And how, except by revolution, could the 
dictator gain office himself? In defining the word democracy afresh, 
Shaw emphasises his view that society should be organised for the 
benefit of all, not merely for the benefit of a privileged class. He was 
not content, for example, to see it organised for the benefit of a 
privileged working class with a fifty-one per cent majority. He 
believed in equalising income sufficiently to abolish classes but he 
had ceased to believe in the wisdom of the people. He had seen it at 
work for too long. 

Contemporary with Bernard Shaw and with a brain as original was 
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), whose preferences were diametrically 
opposite but whose conclusions were, in one respect, almost the same. 
Belloc was a liberal democrat and utterly opposed to socialism. And 
whereas Shaw was ready to jettison democracy when he found it 
inconsistent with socialism, Belloc rejected socialism as inconsistent 
with democracy. They agreed, that is to say, on the central fact of 
their being incompatible. One of Belloc's most remarkable works is 
The Servile State, written in 1912. That book and the Party System 
(1911) resulted from his experience as a Liberal Member of Parlia- 
ment, for Salford, from 1906 to 1910. In other words, Belloc entered 
Parliament as one of the triumphant Liberals of 1906 and witnessed, 
from a back bench, the passing of the more or less sociahst legislation 
which led up to the Parliament Act of 1911. His conclusion was that 
Britain had taken a road which could lead only to slavery. As an 
historian he knew how difficult it is to prevent slavery, and he made 
this clear in a sentence which is the starting point of his argument: 

In no matter what field of the European past we make our research, 
we find, from two thousand years ago upwards, one fundamental 
institution whereupon the whole of society reposes; that fundamental 
institution is Slavery.^ 

He reminds us that the freedom of the proletariat is a recent and 
precarious state of affairs to be maintained only by ceaseless demo- 
cratic vigilance. A Capitalist State, democratic in theory but with 
vast differences in economic status, is, he points out, essentially 
unstable. It is a pyramid balanced upon its apex. It can be upset at 
any moment by a democratic attack on the wealthy or a capitalist 
attack on democracy. The theory of equality and the concrete facts 
are too much at variance for stability to be achieved. 

If the Capitalist State is in unstable equilibrium, this only means that 
it is seeking a stable equilibrium, and that Capitalism cannot but be 
transformed into some other arrangement wherein Society may repose. 
' T/ie Servile State. Hilaire Belloc. London, 1912. p. 31. 


There are but three social arrangements which can replace Capital- 
ism: Slavery, Socialism, and Property. . . . 

The problem turns, remember, upon the control of the means of 
production. Capitalism means that this control is vested in the hands 
of few, while political freedom is the appanage of all. If this anomaly 
cannot endure, from its insecurity and from its own contradiction with 
its presumed moral basis, you must either have a transformation of the 
one or of the other of the two elements which combined have been 
found unworkable. These two factors are (1) The ownership of the 
means of Production by a few; (2) The Freedom of all. To solve 
Capitalism you must get rid of restricted ownership, or of freedom, 
or of both.^ 

The abolition of restricted ownership can be brought about in two 
ways, either by redistributing property among the many or by vesting 
it in the State. 'The essential point to grasp is that the only alternative 
to private property is public property'. The choice is between Distri- 
butism and Socialism. But the redistribution of property, in an indus- 
trial state, is politically and even technically difficult. It might follow 
some external catastrophe but could hardly be done from within, 
without so disturbing 'the whole network of economic relations as to 
bring ruin at once to the whole body politic'.'^ The difficulty, in fact, 
of 'redistributing' a railway system would be less formidable than 
that of persuading the employees to accept property in the railway 
(with its attendant risks) instead of a secure living wage. Belloc 
concludes, reluctantly, that Capitalist modes of thought and the 
division of society into employers and employed, must present an 
almost impossible situation to the distributist reformer. He wants to 
take from those who are unwilling to relinquish in order to give to 
those who are unwilling to receive. In practice, therefore, it is only 
the socialist who makes any progress. 

The Socialist movement ... is itself made up of two kinds of men: 
there is (a) the man who regards the public ownership of the means of 
production (and the consequent compulsion of all citizens toworkunder 
the direction of the State) as the only feasible solution of ourmodernills. 
There is also (b) the man who loves the CoUectivist ideal in itself, who 
does not pursue it so much because it is a solution of modern Capital- 
ism, as because it is an ordered and regular form of society which 
appeals to him in itself. He loves to consider the ideal of a State in 
which land and capital shall be held by public officials who shall order 
other men about and so preserve them from the consequences of 
their vice, ignorance, and folly. 

These types are perfectly distinct, in many respects antagonistic, 
and between them they cover the whole Socialist movement.^ 

' Belloc. op. cit. pp. 97-98. 

^ Ihid. p. 110. 

' Ibid. pp. 121-122. 


The Socialist party, comprising these divergent elements, finds 
itself confronted with the formidable entrenchments of Capitalism, 
strengthened with the barbed wire of legal, moral and technical 
entanglement. The assault is not going to be easy. There is a parley. 
The Socialist leader says to the Capitalist 'I desire to dispossess you, 
and meanwhile I am determined that your employees shall live 
tolerable lives'.' The Capitalist shows that the attempt to evict him 
can lead only to disaster. But he is willing to compromise. While 
retaining his position, he will make the workers' lives more tolerable 
— provided they will accept certain conditions, to be agreed. 

This idealist social reformer, therefore, finds the current of his 
demand canalised. As to one part of it, confiscation, it is checked and 
barred; as to the other, securing human conditions for the proletariat, 
the gates are open. Half the river is dammed by a strong weir, but there 
is a sluice, and that sluice can be lifted. Once lifted, the whole force of 
the current will run through the opportunity so afforded it; there will 
it scour and deepen its channel; there will the main stream learn to 

In other words, nearly everything that the humanitarian socialist 
wants can be achieved. He can end the suffering and insecurity of the 
poor, provided they will accept a diminution of their freedom; for 
that is what the attached conditions will amount to. The Capitalist 
cannot give them security unless they will do as they are told. The 
idealist Reformer will find that he has brought about the Servile 
State. What of his colleague, the lover of statistics? He is still less 
likely to risk a frontal assault, without even moral indignation to 
drive him on. He finds, in fact, that all he really cares about — a tidy 
system and a high salary for himself — can be gained with relative 

To such a man the Servile State is hardly a thing towards which he 
drifts, it is rather a tolerable alternative to his ideal Collectivist State, 
which alternative he is quite prepared to accept and regards favour- 
ably. . . . 

The so-called 'Socialist' of this type has not fallen into the Servile 
State by a miscalculation. He has fathered it; he welcomes its birth, 
he foresees his power over its future.^ 

Belloc saw the beginnings of the Servile State in the National 
Insurance Act of 1911, partly because the definition of the persons to 
be compulsorily insured drew the line between the proletariat and the 
free, and partly because, to the threat of unemployment could now 
be added the threat of a deprivation of savings. 

• Belloc. op. cit. pp. 124-125. 
'Ibid. p. 125. 
'Ibid. pp. 129-139. 


A man has been compelled by law to put aside sums from his wages 
as insurance against unemployment. But he is no longer the judge of 
how such sums shall be used. They are not in his possession; they are 
not even in the hands of some society, which he can really control. 
They are in the hands of a Government official. 'Here is work offered 
you at twenty-five shillings a week. If you do not take it you certainly 
shall not have a right to the money you have been compelled to put 
aside. If you will take it the sum shall still stand to your credit, and 
when next in my judgment your unemployment is not due to your 
recalcitrance and refusal to labour, I will permit you to have some of 
your money: not otherwise'. Dovetailing in with this machinery of 
compulsion is all that mass of registration and docketing which is 
accumulating through the use of Labour Exchanges. Not only will the 
Official have the power to enforce special contracts, or the power to 
coerce individual men to labour under the threat of a fine, but he will 
also have a series of dossiers by which the record of each workman can 
be established. No man, once so registered and known, can escape; 
and, of the nature of the system the numbers caught in the net must 
steadily increase until the whole mass of labour is mapped out and 

These are very powerful instruments of compulsion indeed. They 
already exist. They are already a part of our laws.^ 

Belloc lived long enough to see the logical conclusion of the process; 
the legalised 'direction' of labour. The Servile State had arrived, as 
he had predicted in that final paragraph with which his book is 
brought almost to its close: 

The internal strains which have threatened society during its 
Capitalist phase will be relaxed and eliminated, and the community 
will settle down upon that Servile basis which was its foundation before 
the advent of the Christian faith, from which that faith slowly weaned 
it, and to which in the decay of that faith it naturally returns.^ 

' Belloc. op. lit. pp. 175-176. 
' Ihid. p. 183. 




Democracy in Decline 

HILAIRE BELLOC tried to show that, in an industrial com- 
munity at least, democracy will tend to turn into Socialism or 
else into that compromise which exists in what he termed the Servile 
State. Subsequent events have gone some way to justify his theory. 
They have also, however, led many to suspect that the alternative 
offered is an unreal one; that there is a distinction here without a 
difference. In Britain, at any rate, we have seen private enterprise 
swept away by combines, price-rings and trade associations to the 
point at which nationalisation, when it comes, makes little apparent 
difference. When the possible employers in a particular trade have 
been reduced, by successive mergers, to perhaps half-a-dozen; when 
these few Boards of Directors, perhaps with an overlapping member- 
ship, have reached agreement with each other about prices, wages and 
quality of product, they cannot resist nationalisation in the name of 
free competition for (as everyone knows) there is none. In a period, 
moreover, of impending slump they may actually welcome national- 
isation as tending to fix salaries at a level which future profits might 
not otherwise justify. To the employees the change may be welcome 
for the same reason. To the consumers the change will probably 
make no difference at all. Socialism and the Servile State would 
appear to be much the same thing. In either form of democracy the 
voters have traded their liberty in exchange for secure wages. In each, 
democracy remains effective enough to ensure that the level of wages 
is at least maintained. In neither form is democracy very consistent 
with freedom. 

Modern European democracy, in a more or less socialist form, 
reached its highest level of popularity in 1918. The First World War 
could be represented as a conflict between obsolete and progressive 
countries; between despotism and democracy. Its immediate and most 
spectacular result was the collapse of monarchy in Germany, Austria- 
Hungary and Russia. The world could be re-shaped according to the 
views of the democratic countries, Britain, France and the United 
States. More than that, the result of the war had seemed to show that 
the democratic way of life could produce armies which were actually 
more effective than those ordered into battle by despots. The soldiers 
of democracy had something, it was thought, for which they could 



fight. Athens must eternally prove superior to Sparta, Grant must 
always triumph over Lee. The making of peace was to be the work of 
genuine democrats — Briand, son of an innkeeper of Nantes, Lloyd 
George, son of an itinerant teacher and brought up by a cobbler, and 
Woodrow Wilson, the college president and idealist. The future of 
the world seemed brighter than ever before. 

What is extraordinary, in retrospect, is the speed with which the 
vision disappeared. Readers of Plato and of Karl Marx might have 
expected to see democracy collapse in anarchy and revolution. 
Readers of John Stuart Mill might have questioned whether socialism 
was compatible with liberty. But none surely would have expected 
it to collapse as quickly as it did. Representative Democracy had 
become the vogue by about 1875. It had led to Socialism, which was 
widespread in 1895 and triumphant by about 1910. By 1930 the period 
of socialistic democracy was practically over. 'Socialism' wrote 
Joseph Conrad 'must inevitably end in Caesarism', but even those 
who shared his fears would hardly have dared to predict that the 
socialist era would be as brief as it proved to be. 

In considering the question of how long a democratic phase of 
government may be expected to last, we can appeal to reason, to 
history and to recent experience. Merely theoretical discussion would 
lead us to expect one of two things. Either the proletariat would 
establish a socialist state or it would fail as against middle-class 
opposition. If it succeeded, the State would acquire such an accumu- 
lation of centralised power — political, economic, religious and cultural 
— that some of the former upper class would be goaded into revolt. 
Supposing the conspiracy or rising should attract any measure of 
support, in the name of freedom, the strongest personality in the 
government would make himself dictator during the emergency: 
thereafter, the rising crushed, he would remain dictator as a pre- 
caution against any future threat of the same kind. In the opposite 
case, supposing that the socialist police state has not been firmly 
established, the middle classes might rally to protect their lives and 
property. In the struggle they will appoint a leader or more probably 
allow the leader to appoint himself. By the time the conflict ends 
in a middle-class victory, the leader will have become dictator; 
and he must remain dictator, this time in a capitalist police state, to 
prevent the proletariat rising again. Civil War of this kind seems likely 
to produce dictatorship in any case; nor do dictatorships of different 
origin differ from each other as much as might be supposed. For the 
dictator, in the last resort, is not so much a master of intrigue and 
cruelty as a man with sufficient moral courage to open fire. It is some- 
times thought that the invention of automatic weapons has ended for 
ever the effectiveness of the mob, putting all the trump cards in the 


hands of whatever government there is. But revolutions are not 
brought about, have never been brought about, by weapons; nor is it 
by weapons that a rising is suppressed. Governments which collapse 
when mobbed are usually lacking not weapons but courage. At some 
point in a situation of growing disorder someone must give the order 
to fire or charge. In a capital city — with the certainty that half the 
casualties will be innocent bystanders — this requires a fair amount of 
courage, it is easiest for a foreigner, a Prince Rupert, a Napoleon, a 
General Dyer; and easier still if the troops are also foreign — Scottish 
mercenaries in Paris, Swiss mercenaries in Rome or German mer- 
cenaries in Algiers. But the risk is considerable, for the man who takes 
the responsibility may never be forgiven by the people and may easily 
be disowned by his own side. That is why a feeble government will 
allow riot and bloodshed to go on for days while its leaders twitter 
among themselves about humanity. Some twenty cartridges will 
disperse the average crowd but a man like Napoleon does not stop at 
that; he cheerfully uses artillery. The smoke has hardly cleared before 
he finds himself dictator. 

Once a man has become dictator he cannot, usually, abdicate. If 
he does, the enemies he has made will kill him. Sulla resigned, it is 
true, and lived for a year. But Julius Caesar could not have resigned 
— he was murdered even while still in office. Pompey could not have 
resigned, nor Cromwell, nor Napoleon. It is the knowledge of his 
own danger that drives the dictator on to eliminate his opponents. 
Nor does it very much matter whether he began, like Julius Caesar, 
as a democratic leader, or like Sulla as the saviour of the oligarchs. 
Once in office he must rule as he can. That is why Gandhi was 
supremely right in maintaining, as he did, that an egalitarian democ- 
racy cannot be achieved by force but only by persuasion. Once 
violence has been used, the feelings aroused will make further violence 
unavoidable. And in a state of tension and fear the party led by one 
will always (given anything like equal chances) defeat the party led by 
a committee. There are therefore abstract reasons for doubting 
whether socialism, as a phase in the decline of democracy, can be 
expected to last for long. There are abstract reasons again for 
supposing that it will lead to dictatorship. 

Does history, generally, bear out this conclusion? For early 
civilisations the evidence is scanty. We know that ancient Egypt had 
a form of revolution against a ruling class. The sage Ipuwer bewailed 
the results in phrases which suggest what had happened. 'The 
wealthy are in mourning. The poor man is full of joy. Every town 
says "Let us suppress the powerful among us'' '. 'The son of a man of 
rank is no (longer) distinguished from him who has no such father'. 
'Those who were clad in fine linen are beaten. Noble ladies suflfer like 


slave girls'. 'All female slaves are free with their tongues. When their 
mistress speaks, it is irksome to the servants'. 'Princes are hungry and 
in distress'. 'Serfs become lords of serfs'. 'The corn of Egypt is com- 
mon property'. 'The chiefs of the land flee. Noble ladies go hungry'. 
'No craftsman works. . . .' This is certainly a fair description of a 
revolution and the sage goes on to describe the results. 'Plague is 
throughout the land. Blood is everywhere. Death is not lacking'. The 
next known event is the proclamation of Intef or Antef of Thebes 
as the first king of the Eleventh Dynasty, about 2160 b.c.^ 

In ancient Greece the examples of democracy turning into dic- 
tatorship after a phase of socialism were so numerous that the Greek 
thinkers felt justified in regarding that sequence as almost a law of 
nature. In ancient Rome the episode of democracy and socialism was 
relatively brief but quite recognisable. It is only, however, of modern 
times that we have such full information as to be quite certain what 
happened. And that historical experience is incomplete in the sense 
that it is still going on. No one could attempt to deduce a law from 
what is, after all, only a single example. 

But one aspect of quite recent experience is the way in which a 
democratic government may lose support even before its 'levelling' 
policy has gone very far. On this subject Gopinath Dhawan is 
admirably precise: 

In recent years Parliamentary Government has been subjected to 
severe criticism. Thus the system of elections; the slow-moving pro- 
cedure; the incapacity of the system, due to centralization and con- 
gestion of business, for the really creative work of social and economic 
planning; the dictatorship of the cabinet; the increasing power of 
permanent officials; the failure of the system to induce the citizen to 
participate actively in political life; the absence of approximate 
economic equality — all these weak points have been assailed by many 
critics. To Gandhiji [i.e. Gandhi, as usually spelt] democracy remains 
unachieved more on account of the prevailing belief in the efficacy of 
violence and untruth than on account of mere institutional inadequacy. 
Democracy is really vitiated by the wrong ideas and ideals that move 

Impatience with democracy had become fairly general before a 
quarter of the twentieth century had passed. Bernard Shaw describes 
how real socialism had been frustrated in England by the party system 
and by universal suffrage. While attributing this to the cunning of 
Disraeli, he admits that things were no better in Germany or France. 

... As nothing parliamentary happened either in Germany or any- 
where else, the proletariat became more and more disappointed and 
disgusted with parliamentary government without understanding 

' The Steppe and the Sown. H. Peake and H. J. Fleure. Oxford, 1928. pp. 142-143. 
- The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Gopinath Dhawan. Ahmedabad, 1951. 
p. 334. 


what was the matter with it. Anarchists, Syndicahsts, and Guild 
Socialists, crushed by Fabianism, raised their heads again and were 
able to shew that militant city mobs were more feared by despots than 
parliamentary Labour Parties by the Capitalist oligarchy. Despotic 
dictators came into fashion as fast as Lib-Lab prime ministers lost 
face. Peter the Great building a new capital city on the Neva; Napoleon 
sweeping out Augean stables, breaking rusty chains, draining marshes, 
making roads for world traffic, and opening a career to the talents in 
a blaze of revolutionary glory; his nephew Haussmanising Paris and 
Mussolini rebuilding Rome; Primo de Rivera and Hitler covering their 
countries with up-to-date roads, were contrasted with the British 
parliament's helpless inability to build a bridge over the Severn, and 
the impotence of Liebknecht and Bebel under the heel first of Bis- 
marck and then of the Kaiser. No parliament could either abolish 
unemployment, the most dreaded affliction of the proletariat, or treat 
the unemployed decently. . . . Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini found, 
as Cromwell had found before them, that . . . they could get anything 
they wanted done, and sweep all parliamentary recalcitrants into the 
dustbin, alive or dead. To the people it seemed that the dictators could 
fulfil their promises if they would, and that the parliamentary parties 
could not even if they would. No wonder the plebiscites always gave 
the dictators majorities of ninety-five per cent and upwards.^ 

Gandhi, the more profound thinker, says plainly that democracy 
cannot work if the voter's chief aim is to benefit himself. In his view 
(and he is obviously right) no good can come of the violence which a 
state confiscation of private wealth must involve. Bernard Shaw sees 
that the kind of socialism he wants will never be voted by any 
electorate he knows. A moderate socialism, in fact, with the voters 
seeking a secure wage and no responsibility can produce only Belloc's 
Servile State. Real socialism, on the other hand, brought about by an 
extremist group, will mean violence, and violence will mean dictator- 
ship. But what is significant about Bernard Shaw's viewpoint is his 
admission that dictatorship, when it comes, is actually what many 
people want. The democracy that does not fail through socialist 
violence fails through mere incompetence; and through an incom- 
petence which has become notorious, public and meas-urable. 

It has been suggested on an earlier page (see p. 173) that the 
defects of Athenian democracy appeared in the disunion produced 
by socialist measures; in public finance; and in external affairs. How 
far does recent experience confirm the view that democracy is liable 
to fail in those particular directions? It would be a study in itself to 
analyse the history of European democracy since 1900, and further 
volumes would be needed to cover the history of democracy else- 
where. All that can be done here is to show that the Athenian defects 

' Everybody's Political What's What. Bernard Shaw. London, 1944. p. 263. 


are not unknown to-day; which is not the same thing as to show that 
they are universal. 

The best example of democratic disunity producing disaster is 
afforded by the fall of France in 1940. Not all the circumstances of the 
collapse are relevant to the present purpose nor were all its causes 
even political. What is clear, nevertheless, is that the French were so 
divided among themselves that their military effort came to nothing. 
More to the point, they quickly produced a government which was 
virtually collaborationist, led by an aged general whose love for 
France was less perhaps than his detestation of socialism in its 
French form. The earlier manifestations of disunity — Boulangism, the 
anti-Dreyfus agitation, the politics of the Action Frangaise — all 
foreshadowed what would sooner or later take place. Elsewhere in 
the world believers in democracy took heart from the triumph of 
the First World War. But the French had been defeated in that war 
and saved only by their allies. Their feeling when war ended was not 
one of elation but of dread. Their fear of German revenge was 
justified by events but it produced no sort of unity. French society 
had been destroyed in successive revolutions, leaving nothing but 
left-wing malcontents whose spiritual home was in Soviet Russia and 
right-wing malcontents whose spiritual home was in Italy or Spain. 

From Germany's exit from the League of Nations in October, 1933, 
a sub-revolutionary period set in for France. Both the Italo-Abys- 
sinian War and the Spanish Civil War tore the tissue of France's 
national opinion to shreds, set all antagonisms ablaze and produced 
the well-known historical phenomenon of some Conservatives' 
preference for a foreign invader to the victory of the progressive 
social forces in his own country. . . } 

The French armies did not fight; they disintegrated. Nor is their any 
sign of recovered unity since 1945. As a world power France no 
longer exists. 

For an example of the dangers of democratic finance we need go 
no further than England. And yet the tendency to build up an 
enormous civil service, such as existed at Athens, is universal and not 
even directly connected with democracy. What is distinctively demo- 
cratic is the force which prevents any reduction in the establishment 
which has been built up. The increase in itself is due to a law of 
growth which affects every administrative office; a law which has yet 
to be fully investigated, the workings of which are manifest although 
not yet reduced to a satisfactory formula. The obvious fact is that 
anyone appointing an administrator to do a certain continuing task, 
assisted by two clerks, will find (after two or three years) that the 
original official is now assisted by two others, dividing the work 
between them, and each of these aided in turn by two clerks. A year 

* The Future of Government. H. Finer. London, 1946. p. 80. 


or two later the official first appointed will need a higher salary in 
order to control two sub-departments, each of which will comprise a 
head and two or more assistants, each again with clerks to assist him. 
By then there will have to be an establishment officer in addition, to 
deal with problems of emoluments and leave. So much is common 
knowledge. What is less widely realised is that the increase in staff is 
governed by a law of growth which is not related in any way to the 
amount of work to be done.^ The volume of outside correspondence 
may be constant, it may have diminished; it may even have increased. 
But the staff will multiply in any case and at approximately the same 
speed, all working as hard as (and some working harder than) before. 
In a commercial concern this process will not continue unchecked for 
ever and may be reversed promptly in a period of slump. Under a 
monarchy the process may be undone when the king wants the 
money for something else, if only for a new mistress. But no one 
can reduce the civil service in a democracy. No one can economise on 
staff in a nationalised industry. To do so would be to lose votes on a 
big scale. There is hardly a modern state not grossly overburdened 
with unproductive clerks and officials, and Britain perhaps as over- 
burdened as any. But there is no remedy for it under a democratic 
form of rule. 

Lastly, there is the question of foreign and colonial policy. So far 
as Great Britain is concerned, it must be remembered that democratic 
measures were for long introduced by aristocratic men. No revolution 
came to break the older traditions and the process of democratic 
dilution has not been completed even yet. Even after Lloyd George 
began to found the Welfare State, diplomacy and the armed services 
remained in aristocratic hands — so much so that there were fears of 
armed revolt over Ulster in 1914. The result was that the diplomatic 
preparation for the First World War was admirable. It was conducted, 
that is to say, solely with regard to national interests. There was little 
confusion about ideological aims. It took even longer for democracy 
to affect the Army and Navy, both remaining under more or less 
aristocratic leadership throughout and after the Second World War. 
To judge the effectiveness of democratic foreign policy we must turn 
to the British record between 1916 and 1940. Of democratic war 
leadership there is as yet no British example at all. All that can be 
noted on that score is that the British turned with relief to an aristo- 
cratic leader in 1940, leaving the direction of the war thereafter to 
him and to senior officers who equally dated from the old regime. 
The results of throwing the services open to talent cannot be known 
until another decade has passed. We know, in the meanwhile, that the 
age of Pericles is over. 

' See The Economist, Nov. 19th, 1955. 


Would it be fair to say that British foreign policy in 1916-1940 
reproduced all the Athenian mistakes? That the foreign policy itself 
was all but suicidal is obvious from the facts, in 1914 Britain faced up 
to the German aggressor in firm alliance with Russia, France and 
Japan, thereafter obtaining the alliance of Italy, Roumania, China 
and the United States. Diplomatically outmanoeuvred, the Kaiser 
had Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria as his only allies. In 1939, by 
contrast, Britain went to war against the same aggressor with France 
and Poland as her only allies. Germany was then in alliance with 
Austria and other satellite countries and enjoyed, in addition, a 
diplomatic understanding with Italy, Spain, Japan and Russia. As 
against that, Great Britain had no understanding with the United 
States, which in fact remained neutral until attacked. Nor was this 
all. For there was actually a moment in 1939-40 when Great Britain, 
already at war with Germany and still unaided by the United States, 
was actually aiding Finland against Russia with every likelihood of 
having in consequence to fight the Russians as well. As it proved no 
easy task, in the end, for Great Britain, Russia and the United States 
to defeat Germany by their combined efforts, an attempt by Great 
Britain to fight both Germany and Russia, and without American 
help, would have been magnificent. But is that war? More to the 
point, is that foreign policy? Disraeli had uttered a specific warning 
that, under a democracy 'You will in due season have wars entered 
into from passion, and not from reason'.^ On the face of it, the failure 
of British foreign policy would seem to have been complete. 

It is not enough, however, for our present purpose, to show that 
British foreign policy had failed, even though the fact is beyond dis- 
pute. We have to show that it failed through being democratic. 
Mistakes in foreign policy are not confined to democracies, as the 
Kaiser proved in 1914. What we have to ascertain is whether the 
mistakes made were of a kind to which democracies are peculiarly 
liable. Were they brought about, in fact, by the pressure of public 
opinion? Or were the disasters due to circumstances unrelated to any 
form of rule? In considering this question the basic fact to realise is 
that the British Empire began to disintegrate in 1921. A result of the 
Washington Conference was to weaken, not only the Royal Navy but 
the entire British position in the Far East. This was the first step in a 
process which was to involve the loss of India. Behind this process 
was the realisation in Britain that a democracy has no right to govern 
an empire. British voters could not logically deny to the Hindoos the 
political privileges they claimed for themselves. When, moreover, the 
British forgot the weakness of their moral position the Americans 
were always quick to remind them of it; being in fact (as it happened) 

' See above, p. 225. 


less sensitive about American imperialism than British. As a back- 
ground, therefore, to British foreign policy was the weakening of the 
Empire generally and the steady deterioration of the position in the 
Far East; due in part to American pressure but also in part to the 
moral sentiments of the British voters whose sentiments joined 
happily with their preference, for the money saved on warships 
could be (and was) spent on social benefits for themselves. 

While it may be admitted, however, that the disintegration of the 
Empire (or the beginnings of it) made the statesman's task more 
difficult, it could be urged that the moral position of Britain was an 
asset and that the purity of British motives would make friends to 
take the place of subjects. No true democrat could accept it as a valid 
criticism of British policy that the principles of freedom were allowed 
to prevail in the Empire over mere principles of strategy. So that it is 
to foreign policy in the narrower sense that we must look for proof of 
democratic weakness. There are three aspects of this which seem 
worthy of study; the methods used, .the aims in view and the specific 
results. As regards the methods there can be few better witnesses than 
Sir Harold Nicolson, who writes: 

The essential defect of democratic policy can be defined in one word, 
namely 'irresponsibility'. Under a monarchic or ohgarchic system the 
'sovereign' who enters into a contract with some foreign State feels 
himself personally 'responsible' for the execution of that contract. For 
a monarch or a governing class to repudiate a formal treaty was 
regarded as a dishonourable thing to do, and would have aroused 
much criticism both at home and abroad. Now, however, that the 
people are 'sovereign', this sense of individual or corporate respon- 
sibility no longer exists. The people are in no sense aware of their own 
sovereignty in foreign affairs and have therefore no sense of responsi- 
bility in regard to treaties or conventions entered into with other 
Powers, even when they have themselves, through their elected rep- 
resentatives, approved of those treaties. They are honestly under the 
impression that their own word has not been pledged and that they 
are therefore fully entitled to repudiate engagements which they may 
subsequently feel to be onerous or inconvenient. . . .^ 

This might seem exaggerated but it is more than borne out by the 

The chief asset with which the Labour party approached the conduct 
of British foreign policy was that it had no past to be ashamed of and 
no heritage to live down. It had played no part in the secret diplomacy 
preceding the war or in the peace settlement. ... It had no responsi- 
bility for the blockade or the armed intervention against Soviet Russia. 
It had, in opposition, denounced these policies and proclaimed that it 
would never be bound, as a government, by secret treaties or arrange- 

' Ciirzon, the last phase. 1919-1925. H. Nicolson. London, 1934. p. 391. 


ments with foreign nations which it might find in existence when it 
assumed power. Its advocacy of a just peace and its insistence upon 
the reconciliation of the victors and the vanquished had an immense 
appeal to a world divided by hostility and suspicion. It was on such a 
basis that Labour was prepared to inaugurate a new era of international 
good will and co-operation.^ 

It is not obvious, at first sight, why a refusal to abide by earlier agree- 
ments (if only secret ones) should in itself banish suspicion or attract 
goodwill. Even, however, if it did, the principle here upheld seems to 
combine idealism and duplicity in a way which foreign governments 
might eventually find confusing. In comparing this new type of 
diplomacy with that prevalent before 1914, Sir Harold Nicolson 
points out where the danger lies: — 

The main distinction, therefore, between the methods of the new and 
those of the old diplomacy is that the former aims at satisfying the 
immediate wishes of the electorate, whereas the latter was concerned 
only with the ultimate interests of the nation. It is, very largely, a 
difference in the time available. The old diplomatist, negotiating as an 
expert with fellow experts, was able to approach his problems in a 
scientific spirit, with due deliberation, and without regard to im- 
mediate popular support. Such a system was obviously open to abuse 
and danger. Yet democratic diplomacy is exposed to its own peculiar 
maladies which, in that they are less apparent, are even more insidious. 
In its desire to conciliate popular feeling it is apt to subordinate 
principle to expediency, to substitute the indefinite for the precise, to 
prefer in place of the central problem (which is often momentarily 
insoluble) subsidiary issues upon which immediate agreement, and 
therefore immediate popular approval, can be attained.- 

This is the other aspect of open diplomacy as conceived by the 
Labour Party. But Sir Winston Churchill makes it plain that no one 
political party was responsible. 

. . . Delight in smooth-sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant 
facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the 
vital interests of the State, genuine love of peace and pathetic belief 
that love can be its sole foundation, obvious lack of intellectual vigour 
in both leaders of the British Coalition Government . . . the strong and 
violent pacifism which at this time dominated the Labour-Socialist 
Party, the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality 
. . . the whole supported by overwhelming majorities in both Houses 
of Parliament: all these constituted a picture of British fatuity and 
fecklessness which, though devoid of guile, was not devoid of guilt, 
and, though free from wickedness or evil design, played a definite part 
in the unleashing upon the world of horrors and miseries which, even 

' British Labour^ s Foreign Policy. Elaine Windrich. Stanford, California, 1952. p. 32. 
" Nicolson. op. cit. pp. 185-186. 


SO far as they have unfolded, are already beyond comparison in human 

These are grave words and written by one who, perhaps beyond 
any other, is in a position to know the facts. 

So much for the methods. What of the aims? In dealing with these 
it becomes necessary to ignore the period before 1933. It was an 
epoch, for the democratic states, of a rather unpractical idealism, 
exemplified (to take one instance) by the Kellogg Pact of 1928, which 
either meant the millenium had come or else meant nothing at all. By 
1933, however (or at latest by 1934) the 'disarmament' period was 
over and Adolf Hitler was already in power. Thenceforward it be- 
comes more possible to discover what the Britishaimsweresupposedto 
be. One principle of British foreign policy has always been to oppose 
whatever Power threatens to become dominant in Europe. By 1934 
that Power was, for the second time, Germany. To keep Germany in 
its place an alliance was needed of Great Britain and France with 
Russia or Italy or both. Nor was this theoretically impossible. 
Hitler's hatred of Russia was known. Mussolini's anxiety to maintain 
Austrian independence was known. But such an alliance required, 
to begin with, the strong and consistent support of Great Britain and 
France. And French policy was not even consistent with itself. On 
the one hand, France had made alliance with Czechoslovakia, 
Yugoslavia and Roumania. On the other hand, the money which 
should have been spent on mobile forces (if the French alliance was 
to help the Czechs) was spent from 1930 on the static defences of the 
Maginot Line. These defences, if completed, might or might not have 
saved France: they could not have saved the Little Entente. Great 
Britain was filled, by contrast, with high-minded people who at the 
same time denounced Germany, denounced Italy and opposed re- 

When a feeble government proposed to strengthen the Royal Air 
Force in July, 1934, the Labour and Liberal Parties moved a vote of 
censure. Mr. Attlee denied the need for more aircraft and denied that 
greater strength would make for peace. Mr. Winston Churchill 
reminded the house that 'our weakness does not only involve our- 
selves; our weakness involves also the stability of Europe'. He also 
pointed out that the Labour and Liberal parties and press were 
foremost in abuse of Germany. 

. . . But these criticisms are fiercely resented by the powerful men who 
have Germany in their hands. So that we are to disarm our friends, we 
are to have no allies, we are to affront powerful nations, and we are to 
neglect our own defences entirely. That is a miserable and perilous 
situation. - 

' The Second World [Var. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. \. pp. 69-70. 
^ Churchill, op. cit. Vol. I. pp. 92-93. 


It was to become more perilous still. For Italy, seeing that there was 
nothing to fear from France or Britain, invaded Abyssinia in 1935 
and drove high-minded Englishmen into still more startling incon- 
sistency. Mr. Attlee demanded 'effective sanctions, effectively applied' 
against Italy, while maintaining that 'We think that you have to go 
forward to disarmament. . . .' Earlier in the same year the League of 
Nations Union had organised a Peace Ballot in which over ten 
million people by demanding reduction of armaments, gave a mis- 
leading impression of their views to the rest of the world. ^ Mussolini, 
thinking the British negligible, decided to look for friends elsewhere. 
At this stage there was something to be said for conciliating him as 
Hoare and Laval wanted to do; and more for sinking the Italian fleet 
as others would have preferred; but the policy chosen combined all 
that was dangerous in either alternative. Next year, in 1936, the 
Spanish Civil War, in which a now hostile Italy was involved, offered 
a splendid opportunity for an agreement with Russia. The chance 
was missed and the end of the war found Britain on bad terms with 
Germany, Italy, Russia and, for that matter, Spain. 
Throughout this period, however, of recurring crises, Britain and 
France had one loyal ally, not a great power but a firm friend, and 
that was Czechoslovakia. At Munich in 1938 that one ally was 
abandoned, betrayed by France with British connivance and despite 
the protest of Russia. Churchill denied at the time 'that security can 
be obtained by throwing a small State to the wolves'- but that was 
exactly what Chamberlain had agreed to do. By snubbing Russia he 
played into Hitler's hands, preparing the way for the later agreement 
between Russia and Germany. By sacrificing Czechoslovakia he 
demonstrated just what the Franco-British alliance was worth to any 
other potential ally. By the same act he threw away the Czech Army 
and the Skoda armaments factory. He threw away, finally, a year; 
delaying the inevitable war by a period during which German strength 
increased far more rapidly than British.^ Having done this. Chamber- 
lain returned to have his policy endorsed by an overwhelming majority 
in the House'' and by a still larger majority of the British public. 

It is not to our present purpose to draw up an indictment of indi- 
viduals or political parties. The object is merely to show that one 
leading principle of British foreign policy — a principle firmly adhered 
to throughout most of three centuries — a principle vindicated afresh 
in 1914 — was reversed during the period from 1933 to 1939. It was 
reversed by a democratically elected government, reversed with 
popular approval, reversed with the full consent of Parliament. This 

' 'Its name overshadowed its purpose'. Churchill, op. cit. Vol. I. p. 232. 

' Churchill, op. cit. p. 238. 

' See Churchill, op. cit. pp. 262-265. 

' By 366 votes to 144. 


principle is only one of several. It is chosen for illustration here be- 
cause it exemplifies the specific dangers of democratic rule; the re- 
fusal to abide by agreements, the refusal to pay for defence, the ready 
betrayal of allies and the failure to combine with others against a 
common danger. Said Disraeli 'you will in due season submit to peace 
ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained' and events were 
to justify his prophecy. Democrats have claimed that the will of the 
people is always right. But can it be the will of a people to prepare 
their own destruction? 


The Caudillos 

DICTATORSHIP is the natural sequel to the anarchy which 
results, very often, from the collapse of democratic rule. 
Dictatorship is usually, however, by its nature a short-lived experi- 
ment, limited to a single lifetime and giving way to another form of 
rule. Were we to judge from the history of dictatorships in the ancient 
world, we should conclude that the dictator is raised to his pedestal 
by fairly general consent. Once there, he cannot descend for fear of 
his enemies; nor do others want him to descend, for fear of renewed 
confusion. So he remains in power until his death, not necessarily 
attributable to old age. There is a marked tendency for dictatorship 
to turn into monarchy, and this trend appears again in modern 
history. The career of Oliver Cromwell is thus very true to pattern. 
Towards the end of his life it was obvious that monarchy had to be 
revived, whether with Cromwell as king or under Charles II restored. 
There was a phase of doubt as to who the king should be but none 
about the need for monarchy as such. And just as Cromwell prepared 
the way for Charles II, so did Napoleon prepare the way for Louis 
XVI 1 1. His intention was to found a new dynasty but, failing in that, 
he merely ensured the restoration of the old. There is much evidence, 
in fact, to suggest that dictatorship is likely to be only a temporary 
expedient in a State with any tradition of unity. Dictatorship as a 
recurrent pattern of rule would seem more characteristic of States in 
which no such unity exists and in which monarchy is, for some 
reason, difficult to establish. 

\ All modern dictatorship owes its inspiration to Simon Bolivar and, 
through him, to Napoleon. It is to South America that we must look, 
in the first instance, for dictatorship introduced and perpetuated as 
an admitted necessity; defended by thinkers of integrity and seen by 
historians as a positive good. This attitude towards dictatorship 
must be understood, however, in relation to its geographical and 
economic setting. South America has offered to its rulers a political 
problem which was initially almost insoluble. The continent is vast, 
largely tropical and jungle-covered, climatically exhausting to the 
immigrant, broken by mountains and periodically afflicted by 
hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Its original Inca and Aztec rulers 
had been able, nevertheless, to organise the stable monarchies which 



the Spaniards found there in about 1500. Some three centuries of 
Spanish colonial rule reduced the Indian population from perhaps 
twenty-five million to about nine million in the early nineteenth 
century. By the same period the Creole white or semi-white population 
amounted to five million, thinly spread over an enormous territory. 
The Spanish social and political structure was aristocratic, all power 
being vested in the officials and higher clergy from Spain and the 
resident horse-riding landowners of Spanish descent. These ruled 
over a listless and improvident population of serfs and slaves. There 
was little or no middle class because of the rigid commercial restric- 
tions which monopolised some trades and forbade others. Of intel- 
lectual activity there was very little sign. 

If some South American handicaps were attributable to nature, 
others were certainly attributable to Spain. 

Spanish America received a poor heritage from the mother country: 
a class system, little experience in self-government, a wealthy, powerful 
and intolerant established church, intellectual repression, and a poor, 
illiterate and superstitious population. . . .^ 

Upon this practically medieval world there burst suddenly the 
potent ideas of nationality, independence, secularism, democracy 
and freedom. The Creoles were to experience the Reformation, the 
American War of Independence and the French Revolution. They 
were to experience them, moreover, at the same time, adding (for the 
sake of variety) some scenes borrowed from the Wars of the Roses 
and others from the America of Bulfalo Bill. Theirs was a history in 
which St. Dominic, Don Quixote, Garibaldi, John of Gaunt and Al 
Capone were all contemporaries and at variance with each other. 
Their swiftly-moving drama passed abruptly from the cloister to the 
wild-west saloon, from the world of Francis Drake to the world of 
Jeremy Bentham. Nor was their confusion merely of the mind. Their 
wars of liberation lasted fourteen years, leaving three million 
exhausted and impoverished Creoles, free now from Spanish rule, to 
govern themselves as well as they might. They were full of new ideas 
but without experience of administration. They were full of noble 
aspirations but had no money at all. 

From the confused story of the Wars of Liberation there emerges 
the one great reputation; that of Simon Bolivar. He was of aristo- 
cratic birth, brought up at Caracas in the Vice-Royalty of New 

If he had not been a great horseman, he would never have reached 
his goal, would never have held his own in battle, on mountain paths 
and mountain passes, and, in spite of all the noble feelings which later 
moved him to ever-greater deeds of daring, would never have become 

' Historic Evolution of Hispanic America. J. Fred Rippy. New York, 1932. p. 336. 


a man of action. A horseman, and only a horseman, could become the 
liberator of the plains and mountains of South America.^ 

_[His education, begun in South America, was continued in Spain 
(1800-1801) and later in the France of the Consulate. He admired 
Napoleon as a soldier, as the hero of the Republic, as the genius of 
freedom. He had no use for him as Emperor and would not even 
attend the coronation, considering him from that moment a tyrant 
and a bar to progress. His education was completed in Milan and 
Rome, where he probably met Lamartine, Madame de Stael, 
Chateaubriand and (possibly) Lord Byron. He returned to South 
America at the age of twenty-three, having read widely and met many 
of the distinguished men and women of the day. He was familiar 
with the works of Spinoza, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Machiavelli, 
Voltaire and Hobbes. Returning to his ancestral home, he was there 
when the news arrived of Napoleon's conquest of Spain. Venezuela 
was declared an independent state in 1810. Bolivar's military career 
began soon afterwards and in 1812 he set out, with five hundred men, 
to liberate South America from all that remained of Spanish rule. 

Most of what followed is not to the present purpose. What is 
significant is his answer to the problem created by his military success. 
How was South America to be governed? He dreamt at one time of a 
united continent, even of the two Americas forming a single state 
with a capital at the Isthmus of Panama. This was fantasy. When he 
liberated Venezuela, however, he proclaimed it a republic and 
summoned a Congress at Angostura. His opening speech to the 
delegates has survived and is proof of the close attention he had paid 
to political theory. 

. . . Nature endows us with the desire for freedom at our birth, yet men, 
whether from apathy or inborn inclination, suffer the chains laid upon 
them. It is a terrible truth that it costs more strength to maintain 
freedom than to endure the weight of tyranny. Many nations, past and 
present, have borne that yoke; few have made use of the happy 
moments of freedom and have preferred to relapse with all speed into 
their errors. For it is people rather than systems which lead to tyranny. 
The habit of subjection makes them less susceptible to the beauty of 
honour and progress, and they look unmoved on the glory of living in 
liberty under self-made laws. But are there any democratic govern- 
ments which have combined power, prosperity and long life? Was it 
not rather aristocracy and monarchy which created the great and 
durable empires? Is there any empire older than China? What 
republic ever lasted longer than Sparta or Venice? Did the Roman 
Empire not conquer the world and the French monarchy last for 
fourteen hundred years ?^ 

' Bolivar, the life of on Idealist. Emil Ludwig. Trans, by M. H. Lindsay. London, 1947. 
' Ludwig. op. cit. pp. 149-50. 


Bolivar became President under the new constitution of a State in 
which his military power was already supreme. He saw himself as 
'a predestined man' and added 'The man is a fool who mistakes the 
blessings which Providence pours on his head. At this very moment 
we are beloved of God and must not leave His gifts unused!'^ 

After an absence of five years, Bolivar returned to Colombia to 
find it torn by intrigues, some wanting to make him king, some 
wanting to depose him altogether. He replied in public: 

'The voice of the nation has forced supreme power upon me. 1 shall 
abhor that office to my dying day, for it is the cause of suspicion that I 
am aiming at the crown. Who can imagine me so blinded that I could 
desire to descend! Do these men not know that the name of Libertador 
is more glorious than any throne? Colombians! I have once more 
taken the yoke upon me, for in time of danger it would be hypocrisy, 
not modesty, to shirk it. But if my action means anything else than that 
I wish to safeguard the rights of the people, let no man count on me!'^ 

He wrote, however, to Paez: 

I am weary of this way of life and desire nothing but my release. I 
tremble lest I may descend from the heights to which fortune has 
raised my name. I never wished for power. It used to oppress me; now 
it is killing me. But Columbia moves my heart. I see our work being 
destroyed and future centuries passing verdict upon us as the culprits. 
That is why I remain in the place to which the voice of the people has 
called me. . . .^ 

Not only did he remain in that position. He came to see that a 
dictatorship was needed and that the constitution must, if necessary, 
be ignored. He wrote in that sense to Santander. 

The dictatorship must bring a total reform with it. Our organization 
is an excess of ill-applied power, and hence harmful. You know that I 
find administration, sedentary work, tedious. Dictatorship is in vogue; 
it will be popular. The soldiers want coercion and the people pro- 
vincial independence. In such confusion, a dictatorship unites the 
whole. If the nation would authorize me, I could do everything. You 
speak of a monarchy . . . am I now to descend to a throne? Your letter 
hurts me. If you want to see me again, never speak again of a crown.* 

Bolivar was dictator of Colombia for eighteen months, 'the 
supreme leader chosen by the people, but neither a tyrant nor a 
despot'. He saw clearly what had to be done but also saw that 'there 
is one great difficulty in our way'. 'Colombia' he wrote, 'is perishing 
because its leader is not ambitious enough'. He had too little love of 
power, too great a dislike of tyranny. When the last Spaniards had 

' Ludwig. op. cit. p. 176. 
^ Ibid. p. 256. 
■■' Ibkl. pp. 257-258. 
' Ibid. p. 262. 


been driven from South America, the liberated repubhcs fell into 
confusion, fighting each other and fighting within themselves. 
Bolivar narrowly escaped assassination and listened afresh to those 
who urged importing royalty from Europe. He decided that it was 

Who is there to become King of Colombia? No prince will come 
from abroad to take over a country in this state of anarchy as a 
hereditary monarchy without guarantees. Debts and poverty cannot 
support princes and courts. Further, the lowest class would fall into 
destitution and would dread inequality, while the generals and 
ambitious men in all classes would not be prepared to lose their 
power. A country dependent on an individual runs a gambler's risk 
every day. . . . No European prince will mount these royal gallows.^ 

Nor would he mount it himself. He resigned office in 1830 and died 
shortly afterwards, summing up his career with the words 'There 
have been three great fools in history: Jesus, Don Quixote and 1'. 

The basic trouble in South America was, of course, religious. The 
rising against Spain had been spontaneous, uniting most of the 
Creoles against an outside domination. It was headed by men of 
liberal views, fired by the example of America and inspired by doc- 
trines from France. But these were fundamentally opposed by others 
who, while wanting liberation, were in all other respects conservative. 
Against visionary anti-clericals were arrayed catholic and slave- 
owning aristocrats with a Spanish dislike for government in any form. 
With a poor and illiterate population and with this lack of unity 
among the politically active, a monarchy was the only possible 
solution. But monarchy was detested by the liberals who had headed 
the revolt. Bolivar saw the practical need for kingship but would not 
renounce all his republican views in order to be crowned. How could 
he who had been too shocked to attend Napoleon's coronation now 
accept a crown for himself? He could see that the constitutions being 
drawn up by the liberals, 'the inventions of well-meaning vision- 
aries','^ were utterly futile but he could see no alternative but dictator- 
ship. He died leaving the problem unresolved. 

What followed was a prolonged period of political instability 
throughout South America; phases of disorder alternating with 
phases of dictatorship. Few of the dictators have had anything like 
Bolivar's political scruples. 

The South American dictator is the caudillo or military leader, 
leader of a party; sometimes leader of an intellectual group, more 
often leader of a military class. Politics were confused in the nine- 

' Ludwig. op. cit. p. 295. The fate of Maximilian was to show that Bolivar was right 
in this as in so much else. 

- The Evolution of Modern Latin America. R. A. Humphreys. Oxford, 1946. See 
p. 79 et seq. 


teenth century by the mutual hostility of landowner and peasant, 
oligarch and half-breed, catholic and secularist, country and town. 
Sierra and seacoast, military and civil. 

Each party supports a leader, an interest, a dogma; on the one side 
a man beholds his own party, the missionaries of truth and culture; 
the others are his enemies, mercenary and corrupt. Each group 
believes that it seeks to retain the supremacy in the name of dis- 
interested virtue and patriotism. Rosas used to call his opponents 
'infamous savages'. For the gang in possession of power, the revolu- 
tionaries are malefactors; for the latter the ruling party are merely a 
government of thieves and tyrants. There are gods of good and evil, as 
in the Oriental theogonies. Educated in the Roman Church, Ameri- 
cans bring into politics the absolutism of religious dogmas; they have 
no conception of toleration. The dominant party prefers to annihilate 
its adversaries. . . .' 

Revolutions have followed one after another. The Republic of 
Bolivia had sixty revolts, ten constitutions and six presidents assas- 
sinated between 1826 and 1898. Peru had forty revolts and fifteen 
constitutions in about the same length of time. Ecuador had twenty- 
three dictators in about eighty years, Venezuela had fifty-two risings 
in seventy years.- The Dominican Republic had forty-three presidents 
in seventy-two years. Mexico had eight revolutions and thirty-seven 
governments between 1828 and 1867. Chile had three constitutions 
and ten governments in seven years, five revolutions between 1827 and 
1829. Throughout South America the pattern was much the same. 
The aristocracy of the hacienda was allied with the church against 
the liberals — the Whites versus the Reds, the 'Bigwigs' versus the 
Radicals. There was no stability except under the more successful 
dictators. Thus, Rosas ruled Argentina for twenty-three years, 
Francia ruled Paraguay for twenty-six years, Gomez ruled Venezuela 
for twenty-seven years and Diaz ruled Mexico for thirty-four. Some 
of these dictators ruled extremely well — Cardenas, Pardo,'' Blanco 
and Juarez for example — while others ruled badly. But everyone 
could see that even a bad dictator was preferable to the periods of 
anarchy which followed each dictator's death. The one exception to 
the rule was Brazil. There a monarchy had been established in 1824, 
providing peace until 1889. Then a bloodless revolution led to the 
establishment of a Republic in 1891. The sequel is as significant as 
the earlier part of the story, for Brazil came under a dictatorship in 
1930 and was ruled very competently by Vargas until 1945. 

It is difficult to make a coherent story out of events in their nature 
so confused. But it would be roughly true to say that most of the 

' Latin America: its rise and progress. F. G. Caldcron. London, 1919. p. 369. 

^ Ihicl. p. 103 et scq. 

'Peru. C. R. Enock. London, 1925. 


South American Republics were still experiencing alternate dictator- 
ship and chaos in 1850. By 1870 there was a slight tendency towards 
more settled administration, a reflection of democratic trends in 
Europe. This tendency became more marked after 1900 as the 
influence of the United States was established over Cuba and 
Panama. At much the same time South America was becoming a 
principal source of grain and meat for the European market. Ameri- 
can capital began to be invested in Brazil and Peru and British 
capital in the Argentine. 

Between 1913 and 1929 the history of Latin America was charac- 
terized by important political and social changes and notable material 
progress. In several countries the middle and lower classes became 
more assertive and exercised no little influence over governmental 
policy. In others strong executives revealed greater interest in the 
masses and inaugurated systems of social welfare under state control. 
Of the seven new constitutions framed in as many countries, at least 
five were significant because of their provisions with reference to 
labor; and everywhere the period was marked by unprecedented social 

Growing prosperity in 1914-18, in creating a new middle class, 
hurried South America on from dictatorship to democracy and from 
democracy to socialism. By 1920 Chile, for example, had a vastly 
expanded and burdensome civil service. More or less socialistic legis- 
lation characterised the period from 1920 to 1925 and the various left 
wing parties then gained considerable influence during that period. - 
Socialism was also attempted in other States, notably in Uruguay 
from 1903 and (after 1911) in Mexico. But socialism, and even 
democracy, rested upon insecure foundations. The population was 
racially mixed and the Indians were still living in the Middle Ages.^ 
Progress had been far too rapid and superficial. The result was that 
the trade depression of 1930-31 brought about revolutions in twelve 
out of twenty Latin American republics. Following a period of chaos 
there was a general return to dictatorship. Chile was ahead of the 
fashion in having Carlos Ibafiez as dictator in 1927. Brazil had 
Vargas as dictator from 1930, Mexico had Cardenas from 1934. 
Uruguay had a dictatorship from 1933 and Guatemala from 1931. 
I n the Argentine, one of the most prosperous states, there was dictator- 
ship from 1931 almost to the present day."* By 1930, incidentally, 

' Historical Evolution of Hispanic America. J. Fred Rippy. New York, 1932. p. 272. 

'' Chile: an outline of its geography, economics and politics. G. J. Butland. London, 
1951. p. 42 et seq. 

^ See Rippy. op. cit. p. 433 et seq. In 1929 there were in South America 34 milhon 
white people, 30 million mixed, 26 million negroes and mulattoes and 20 million 

^ Juan Peron, the recent dictator, became President in 1946 and followed the 
example of the European dictators rather than that of previous Caudillos. It is interest- 
ing that the Argentine should have had a dictatorship before, during and after the Hitler 
period of 20th Century Europe. 


Europe was beginning to follow South American precedent, produc- 
ing new theories to justify what had for long been the established 
practice in Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador. Nor was the 
South American example unnoticed by European critics of democ- 
racy. Francia, for example, dictator of Paraguay from 1813 to 1840, 
was particularly admired, as was Diaz later on. 

When he died Francia was mourned by his people, a people about to 
reveal in warfare a Spartan tenacity, a tranquil heroism. . . . Francia 
had formed a proud and warlike race. He was the most extraordinary 
man the world had seen for a hundred years, said Carlyle in one of his 
Essays — a Dominican ripe for canonisation, an excellent superior of 
Jesuits, a rude and atrabilious Grand Inquisitor. The Scottish historian 
praises the grim silences of Francia — 'The grim unspeakabilities' — 
that mute solitude in which remarkable men commune with the 
mystery of things.^ 

The fact that South America raced through so much political 
experience in so short a time must not blind us to the nature of the 
process. Monarchy was what most of the States needed and it was to 
dictatorship (as a substitute for monarchy) that most of the States 
continually returned. There are grounds for believing that, without 
an initial period of monarchy, the later development of democracy is 
not even possible; not, at least, in a State of any size or any diversity 
of population. 

Resembling each other in language and race, and in the general 
nature of their problems, the South American Republics are a sort 
of modern equivalent of the Greek City States. They have presented, 
at different times, examples of nearly every form of rule. It is to be 
expected, therefore, that they should have produced their own 
political theorists, profiting by so many object lessons, so many tales 
of success and failure. Nor is such an expectation disappointed in the 
event. Most of the theorists were liberals, teaching the doctrines of 
Bentham, Toqueville and John Stuart Mill. Many were more or less 
influenced by Alphonse Lamartine (1790-1869), especially after the 
revolution in France of 1848. Chief of the liberal theorists was 
Lastarria of Chile but after him came Bilbao, founder of the Society 
of Equality, exiled for blasphemy and sedition. Montalvo in Ecuador 
was of the same school of thought, an opponent of the Church, but 
an admirer of Christianity. He was also, however, and significantly, 
an admirer of Bolivar, whom he compares with Napoleon rather to 
the latter's disadvantage. From Montalvo we learn something of the 
way in which the best of the Caudillos were regarded in his day. 
Writing of Napoleon but thinking more of Bolivar, he says: 

^ Latin America, its rise and progress. F. G. Calderon. Trans, by B. Miall. London, 
1919. p. 195. See also Paraguay. W. H. Koebel. London, 1919. Chap. X. (pp. 164-179). 


In Napoleon there is something more than in other men; a sense, a 
wheel in the mechanism of understanding, a fibre in the heart. He looks 
across the world from the Apennines to the Pillars of Hercules, from 
the pyramids of Egypt to the snows of Russia. Kings tremble, pallid, 
and half-lifeless; thrones crack and crumble; the nations look up and 
regard him and are afraid, and bend the knee before the giant. ^ 

He thus comes near to being an apologist of dictatorship. That 
could not be said of Vigil or Sarmiento, liberal thinkers respectively 
of Peru and the Argentine. All these looked chiefly to France for 
their ideas and others, between 1848 and 1858, regarded Lamartine 
as a 'demi-god, a second Moses'. They quoted with approval his 
saying that democracy is, in principle, the direct reign of God; the 
application of Christian ideas to the world of politics." Almost alone 
among these theorists was Alberdi, who pleaded for monarchy. 

'The Republic has been and is still the bread of Presidents, the trade 
of soldiers, the industry of lawyers without causes, and journalists 
without talent; the refuge of the second-rate of every species, and the 
machine for the amalgamation of all the dross of society.'^ 

It is a fair description and Calderon adds his comment that 'amid 
the sterile enthusiasm of romantic politicians his book stands out, in 
its gravity, sobriety, common sense, and realism, like a lesson for all 
time'.* It was not however a lesson that his countrymen were willing 
to learn. Neither, on the other hand, have European political theorists 
shown much interest as yet in the experience or the political thought 
of South America.'^ In the histories of the future the ideas of Lastarria, 
Montalvo and Alberdi would seem to deserve at least as much space 
as we now devote to those of Tom Paine or Graham Wallas. 

' Calderon. op. cit. Sec Chap. I. Book V. (pp. 235-248). 
' I hid. p. 244. 
-■' Ihkl. p. 246. 
^ Ihid. p. 247. 

'•See, however, Dictatorship. Its History and Theory. A Cobban. London, 1939. 
pp. 144-159. 


Twentieth Century Dictatorship 

THROUGHOUT the first half of the present century dictatorship 
has been, beyond dispute, the characteristic form of rule. 
Thinkers of the Enghsh-speaking world have tended, it is true, to 
consider dictatorship as no more than a momentary deviation from 
the path towards democracy. They attribute just the same permanence 
to democratic government that their forefathers attributed in turn to 
monarchy and aristocracy. But there is no particular reason for sup- 
posing that democracy will last any longer than the earlier forms of 
rule; and historical analogy would incline us rather to doubt whether 
it will even last as long. Predictions, however, are not to the present 
purpose. The plain fact is that democracy passed its peak of popu- 
larity in about 1918.' There was a moment at the end of the First 
World War when monarchies had collapsed in Germany, Austria 
and Russia and when the fate of the world was to be decided by the 
United States, the British Empire and France. The future was to be 
made safe for democracy. At that very moment the first of the new 
totalitarian states was founded in Russia by Lenin and the second 
in Poland by Jozef Pilsudski, who remained in office until his death 
in 1935. It was the beginning of a landslide. 

It was Italy that now led the way, Mussolini becoming dictator 
there in 1922. Dictatorships were founded thereafter in this order: 
Spain (1923), Turkey (1923), Chile (1927), Greece (1928), Brazil 
(1930), Dominican Republic (1930), Argentine (1931), Guatemala 
(1931), Portugal (1932), Uruguay (1933), Austria (1933), Germany 
(1933), Mexico (1934), Greece (again, in 1936), and France (1940). 
The student confronted by this list must find it difficult to talk of the 
inevitable progress of nations towards parliamentary rule with 
universal suff'rage. Nor must he forget that there were significant 
tendencies towards dictatorship in countries which finally opposed 
the trend. As against that it may be argued that the triumph of the 
English-speaking peoples in 1945, with the collapse of the dictator- 
ships involved in the Second World War, showed that democracy 

' It is perhaps significant that Oswald Spengler's booic The Decline of the West 
appeared in 1918 and had an instant and widespread circulation; as much perhaps on 
the strength of its title as on its contents. Some ninety thousand copies were sold in a 
few years and it was translated into many languages. See Social Philosophies of an age 
of Crisis. P. A. Sorokin. London, 1952. Chap. IV. p. 72 ci. scq. 



was very much alive. The trend should accordingly have been re- 
versed. In point of fact, however, the trend has continued, with new 
dictatorships set up in Rumania (1940), Yugoslavia (1944), the Argen- 
tine (1946), Nationalist China (1946), Paraguay (1947), Thailand 
(1947), Peru (1948), Communist China (1949), Vietnam (1949), 
Venezuela (1952), Egypt (1952), Cuba (1952) and Colombia (1953). 
No exact statistics are possible, for a dictatorship is not easy to define, 
but there are grounds for supposing that dictatorship is still on the 
increase and might extend at any time to such countries as Indonesia 
and South Africa. 

There is room for disagreement about the details of this general 
tendency. Was Lenin a dictator? Was Venizelos? But there can be 
no question, surely, that the tendency exists. There may be more 
democracies than ever, and more still to be created as a result of 
colonial territories becoming autonomous. The nineteenth century 
liberal impetus has not been lost in the more remote parts of the 
world. But the surge of these distant waves is clearly the result of a 
central movement that has itself ceased. Democracy died long ago 
as a creed and an inspiration. It died in the middle of the First World 
War, just before the moment of its apparent triumph. 

The question, whether men will rise towards the higher standard 
which the prophets of democracy deemed possible has been exercising 
every thoughtful mind since August 1914. and it will be answered less 
hopefully now than it would have been at any time in the hundred 
years preceding. That many millions of men should perish in a strife 
which brought disasters to the victors only less than those it brought to 
the vanquished is an event without parallel in the annals of the race. 
There has probably been since the fifth century no moment in history 
which has struck mankind with such terror and dismay as have the 
world-wide disasters which began in 1914, and have not yet passed 
away. The explanations of the facts are no more cheering than the 
facts themselves. . . . Knowledge has been accumulated, the methods 
and instruments of research have been improved . . . but the mental 
powers of the individual man have remained stationary, no stronger, 
no wider in their range, than they were thousands of years ago, and 
the supremely great who are fit to grapple with the vast problems 
which the growth of population and the advances of science have 
created come no more frequently, and may fail to appear just when 
they are most needed.^ 

So wrote James Bryce in a book published in 1929, compiled 
before the trade depression had even begun. And there can be no 
doubt that he was right. The liberals lost their faith when they 
discovered that democracies can kill. Democracy, which had been 
thought to provide the answer to all problems, had already been found 

• Modern Democracies. James Bryce (Viscount Bryce). 2 Vols. London, 1929. Vol. IF. 
p. 667. 


lacking the answer to one; the problem of war. It was soon to be 
found equally devoid of an answer to a second problem; the problem 
of peace. But even before that second discovery the institution had 
begun to collapse. To quote Bryce again: — 

In the form which it has almost everywhere taken, that of govern- 
ment by a representative assembly, democracy shows signs of decay; 
for the reputation and moral authority of elected legislatures, although 
these, being indispensable, must remain, have been declining in almost 
every country. In some they are deemed to have shown themselves 
unequal to their tasks, in others to have yielded to temptations, in 
others to be too subservient to party, while in all they have lost some 
part of the respect and social deference formerly accorded to them. 
Whither, then, has gone so much of the power as may have departed 
from them? In some countries it would seem to be passing to the 
Cabinet — England is often cited as an example — in others to the 
directly elected Head of the State, as for instance to the Governors in 
the several States of the American Union. In France, though there has 
been no definite change, calls are heard for a strong President, and in 
Argentina the President already overtops the Chambers. What is 
common to all these cases is the disposition to trust one man or a few 
led by one, rather than an elected assembly.' 

Writing a decade later and writing in fervent defence of democracy, 
Eduard Benes had to admit that the democratic governments had been 
widely criticised. 

The deficiencies, weaknesses, and of course great mistakes of the 
individual democracies, which it was apparently impossible to avoid, 
are the third category of facts which played a specially important role 
in the downfall of European democracies. There were the excesses of 
the party system, its mistakes and exaggerations; the slowness and 
inefficiency of democratic methods of work and leadership during 
times of crises and at moments when quick actions and quick decisions 
were necessary; the partiality, corruption and incapacity of bureau- 
cracy, subjugated very often to the exaggerated party spirit; the 
deficiencies, mediocrity and mistakes of the democratic leaders. - 

If Benes was aware of such criticism, others without his democratic 
idealism were still more ready to see where democracy had failed. 
These others had as their basic motive a dislike of the socialism (or 
communism) to which democracy — except in a small and simple 
community — was obviously bound to lead. We read in Mein Kampf 
that Adolf Hitler (then aged nineteen) attended the Chamber of 
Deputies at Vienna for a year. Critical from the first, he listened to 
confused debates at which everyone shouted. He also listened to 
bored debates when scarcely anyone was there. He finally concluded 

' Brycc. op. cit. VoL II. p. 632. 

- Democracy Today and Tomorrow. E. Bcncs. London, 1939. p. 61. 


that 'the institution itself was wrong in its very essence and form'. 
Merely to abolish it, on the one hand, would be to reinstate the 
Habsburgs in absolute power. To leave it in existence, on the other 
hand, would be to open the gates to socialism. 

Democracy, as practised in Western Europe to-day, is the fore- 
runner of Marxism. In fact the latter would not be conceivable without 
the former. Democracy is the breeding-ground in which the bacilli of 
the Marxist world pest can grow and spread. By the introduction of 
parliamenlarianism democracy produced an abortion of filth and fire, 
the creative fire of which, however, seems to have died out.^ 

To abolish parliament without restoring monarchy could only 
mean finding a form of rule different from either. Hitler was typical 
of many in wondering whether some form of dictatorship might not 
be preferable. In their opposition to social democracy these middle- 
class spokesmen were neither more nor less selfish than the trades- 
unionists they sought to oppose. They could point, moreover, to 
very real defects in democratic governments of the day. They could 
find valid reasons for advocating a form of government which might 
seem, at the outset, more efficient. It is essential to realise that dic- 
tatorship was not merely imposed by military force. That there was 
normally an element of violence in the process by which the dictators 
gained power is true. There was also, however, considerable support 
from the public at large; and without that support the rise of most 
dictators would scarcely have been possible. 

Not all dictators came into power on the heels of a collapsing 
socialist democracy. Some were installed, as we shall see, in countries 
where democracy was hardly known. But the tendency for dictator- 
ship to succeed democracy, after a period of confusion, was exempli- 
fied in several countries of which Italy was perhaps the f.rst. Italy had 
shown liberal-labour tendencies in 1912-14 which were checked 
momentarily when Italy entered the war against Germany and 
Austria. Overwhelming defeat followed at Caporetto in October, 
1917. Rallying quickly the Italians managed, with Allied help, to 
defeat the Austrians in 1918 at Vittorio Veneto. They afterwards 
convinced themselves that they had won the war, being cheated by 
the French and British of their proper reward. They had been deceived 
by President Wilson. Their own assessment of their contribution to 
victory differed sharply from the assessment of others and Baron 
Sonnino had little success, therefore, in his efforts to sustain the 
Italian claims. The government was discredited by that failure and 
the Socialists began to recruit masses of adherents from among the 
disillusioned and resentful. The Socialist Party had opposed the war 

' Mein Kampf. Adolf Hitler. Trans, by James Murphy. 2 Vols. London, 1939. Vol. I. 
p. 78. 


and its members could now regard it as a virtual defeat; just such a 
defeat, in fact, as had preceded the revolution in Russia. Impressed 
by this analogy, the Socialist Party affiliated to the Communist 
International in March, 1919, before achieving a striking success in 
the General Election of November. The Socialists won, it is true, 
only 156 seats out of 508. They were, nevertheless, the strongest single 
party, supported by a third of the voters and gaining a proportionate 
control in local government. Rather surprised by their own success, 
the Socialist leaders failed to grasp their opportunity. Uttering the 
slogan 'The Revolution is not made. The Revolution comes', ^ they 
allowed their movement to spend itself in pointless demonstrations. 
Climax to a period of confusion was the occupation of the North 
Italian factories in September, 1920. In the course of this episode half 
a million workers were in possession of six hundred factories, with 
armed guards posted and elected committees in control. Nor did they 
withdraw until promised a twenty per cent wage increase and a share 
in the future management. 

Now was the moment for revolution. 

Had the leaders of the General Confederation of Labour and of the 
Socialist Party wished to strike a decisive blow, here was the oppor- 
tunity. . . . The bankers, the big industrialists and big landlords waited 
for the social revolution as sheep wait to be led to the slaughter. If a 
Communist revolution could be brought about by the bewilderment 
and cowardice on the part of the ruling classes, the Italian people in 
September, 1920, could have made as many Communist revolutions 
as they wished.^ 

This was proved by the earlier events in 1920 — railway strikes, 
agricultural strikes in Ferrara and Lombardy, rioting in the streets 
and even fisticuffs in Parliament. The government headed by Nitti 
and later by Giolitti was composed of liberal pacifists who had in 

1919 agreed to improve the universal suffrage (introduced in 1912) 
by proportional representation. They were faced in consequence with 
a variety of political parties. These did not include the Fascisti, how- 
ever, who failed at this time to win a single seat. Giolitti met the 
situation in the factories by a policy of inaction and the workers 
realised that they must either stage a revolution or retreat from their 
position. They shrank from a Communist Revolution (many being 
Catholics) and so lost the initiative. 

It was during the lull which followed the workers' withdrawal in 

1920 that the reaction began. Failing actual revolution, it was 
inevitable that the professional classes, ex-officers and students 
should rally to defend themselves. The Fascist party, opposed to 

'■ Fascism and Social Revohilion. R. Palme Dutt. London, 1934. p. 97. 
- G. Salvemini, quoted in R. Palme Dutt. op. cit. p. 98. 


Communism, attacked and burnt the Labour Party headquarters 
at Bologna in January, 1921. Encouraged by this success (and more by 
the failure of the police to interfere), people of wealth began to contri- 
bute to Fascist funds. Membership of the party, insignificant in 1920, 
rose to 248,000 in the following year. Between January and April, 
1921, the Fascists attacked and destroyed Labour Party Offices and 
Clubs, inflicting and sustaining casualties and gaining further sup- 
port. In the elections of May, 1921, only 35 Fascists were elected as 
against 122 Socialists and 16 Communists. It was not, however, by 
votes that the Fascists could hope to win. Following Giolitti's resig- 
nation in July, 1921, the liberals lost any cohesion they had ever had. 
By November the Fascists had drawn up a programme and a creed, 
primarily designed to attract further middle-class support. 

The Confederation declares that the increase of production and means 
of production implies, not only the increase of the productive types, 
but at the same time the increase of the middle classes and an ever- 
growing diffusion of wealth and property; which also means that it 
will afford to the proletarian elites the possibility of acquiring and 
directly managing the instruments and materials of production and of 
rendering themselves indispensable both socially and technically.^ 

Organised now on military lines, the Fascists went into action 
afresh, captured Milan in August, 1922 and prepared for the march 
on Rome. One significant Fascist proposal made at this time was to 
minimise the functions of the State. 

. . . We have had enough of the State railwayman, the State postman, 
and the State insurance official. We have had enough of the State 
administration at the expense of the Italian tax-payer, which has done 
nothing but aggravate the exhausted financial condition of the 
country. . . .- 

Under battle-cries such as this, inspiring if slightly obscure, the 
Fascists went forward to their bloodless revolution of October 28th, 
which resulted in Mussolini becoming Prime Minister, at the King's 
invitation, on the 30th. He secured full powers from the House of 
Representatives by a vote of 275 to 90, announced a programme of 
'Order and Economy', and gained a firm majority in the general 
election of 1924. Among his first achievements in office was the re- 
duction of the public pay-roll. 

. . . Mussolini realised that Italy was suffering, in common with most 
Southern countries, from a plethora of officials and State employees. 
He began by amalgamating overlapping ministries and suppressing 
superfluous offices. A ruthless cutting of staffs in the various ministries 

' Three Master Builders and Another. P. H. Box. London, 1925. Manifesto quoted on 
p. 158. 

- Ihid. quotation on p. 169. 


was inaugurated, designed to discover the exact point at which the 
services could be maintained in a state of efficiency. In the six months 
ending 30th April, 1923, 17,232 men were dismissed from the railways, 
which since the war had become under the State management hope- 
lessly over-staffed and inevitably insolvent. Notice was given that by 
the end of 1923 the staff must be reduced by another 300,000. The 
stupendous disorder of the State railways can be gauged by the fact 
that after these amputations, they increased in efficiency.^ 

This policy of 'Order and Economy' also allowed Mussolini to 
abolish death duties, reduce direct taxation and repeal much of the 
socialist legislation passed by the liberals. The middle classes thus 
won over, Mussolini next turned to console the workers and even- 
tually (under the pressure of war) went far towards re-introducing 
the economic controls he had just abolished.- However inconsistent 
its policy, Fascist government could count at one time upon a great 
measure of popular support. Nor was there any display of Italian 
grief when 'the whole Parliamentary structure of government in 
Italy crumbled like a stucco facade'.^ Mussolini had something better 
than parliamentary support in a Catholic country where the Pope 
(Pius XI) regarded him — after the concordat of 1929 — as 'the in- 
comparable Minister".^ Nor was Mussolini at fault when he said 
that 'Never have peoples been yearning for authority, leadership, 
and order as they are now\^ 

The Dictatorships of to-day were thrown up by the swirl of events, 
but they have developed an authoritarian philosophy to buttress their 
thrones. Bolshevist, Fascist and Nazi agree in repudiating nineteenth- 
century Liberalism as a creed outworn. . . . 

"Liberalism only flourished for half a century' echoes Mussolini. 
'It was born in 1830 in reaction against the Holy Alliance. It is the 
logical, and indeed historical, forerunner of anarchy. . . .'^ 

The story of democracy and dictatorship in modern Germany is 
not strikingly different. A strong liberal movement in the late nine- 
teenth century had turned towards socialism and gained a measure 
of socialist legislation in Bismarck's time. Defeat in the First World 
War had combined with the example of Russia to bring about the 
revolution of I9I8. In this revolution the proletariat gained power. 

A Council of People's Commissars, responsible to the Workers' and 
Soldiers' Councils, was appointed, consisting of three majority Social 

' Ihid. p. 174. 

■ Dictatorship. A. Cobban. London, 1939. p. 129. 

' Cobban, op. cit. p. 127. 

' The Official Life of Benito Miis.solini. Gcorgio Pini. Trans, by Luigi Villari. London 

' Ihid. p. 244. 

" Dictatorship in Theory and Practice. G. P. Gooch. London, 1935. (Conway Mem- 
orial Lecture). 


Democrats, and three Independents. The forms which had thus to be 
adopted revealed how completely the pressure and demand of the 
masses in the moment of revolution was towards the Soviet Re- 
public. . . .^ 

The same events appeared differently to another, closer, observer. 

. . . The great middle stratum of the nation had fulfilled its duty and 
paid its toll of blood. One extreme of the population, which was con- 
stituted of the best elements, had given a typical example of its heroism 
and had sacrificed itself almost to a man. The other extreme, which was 
constituted of the worst elements of the population, had preserved 
itself almost intact, through taking advantage of absurd laws and also 
because the authorities failed to enforce certain articles of the military 

This carefully preserved scum of our nation then made the Revo- 
lution. And the reason why it could do so was that the extreme section 
composed of the best elements was no longer there to oppose it. It no 
longer existed. . . .'- 

It is the fashion among communists to bewail the fact that the 
German workers missed their chance in 1918-23, failing to secure 
their position as they might have done by dispossessing the wealthy, 
taking over the key industries and arming themselves against middle- 
class revolt. That they failed to make the most of their opportunity 
is clear. It is at least equally clear that they furthered their own ends 
to a very considerable extent. The Weimar Republic was a Social 
Welfare State. Rents had been frozen during the war and compre- 
hensive schemes of social insurance had been introduced even earlier. 
In November, 1918, fresh legislation secured the right to form trades 
unions and the right to strike. Similar reforms introdu-^ed the eight- 
hour day, provided for collective labour agreements and allowed 
workers a share in the control of industry. Fixed wage scales were 
agreed by arbitration and Conciliation Boards formed to settle labour 
disputes — Boards empowered to give legally binding decisions as from 
1923. Factory Councils existed from 1920 and in 1923 a 'Degree 
against the abuse of economic power' placed the Cartels under what 
was virtually state control. There was even a National Economic 
Council with 326 members and labour interests amply represented. 
Means Tests were abolished in 1927, by which date most trade union 
objectives had been more or less achieved.^ 

The working class gained something, therefore, under the Weimar 
Republic. The middle class, by contrast, lost everything. The inflation 
of 1923 destroyed their savings and left them resentful, insecure and 

' Fascism and Social Revolution. R. Palme Dutt. London, 1934. pp. 110-111. 
- Mein Kampf. Adolf Hitler. Trans, by James Murphy. London, 1939. p. 428. 
' See The Weimar Republic. G. Scheele. London, 1946. 


almost ready to revolt. Hayek has very properly pointed out that the 
type of socialism which gives security to skilled workmen, fixing 
wages and preventing unemployment, actually diminishes the security 
of everyone else.^ The impoverished middle class had been left out in 
the cold. The National Socialists or Nazis in Germany were largely 
drawn from this middle class, a 'white collared proletariat' of 
lawyers, teachers and engineers who retained pretentions to power 
but whose actual income was far less than that of an engine driver 
or other skilled artisan. They were not opposed to Socialism as such 
but they 'expected a place in that society very different from that 
which society ruled by labour seemed to offer'. To an opposition 
comprising an aristocracy and army were added middle class elements 
and even such of the lower classes as were outside the privileged 
bodies, the trades unions of skilled workers. Adolf Hitler arose as 
leader of this opposition and made much of the fact that the Socialist 
leaders were, some of them, pacifists, Jews or both. In a speech de- 
livered in September, 1923, he asked: 

How are States founded ? Through the personality of brilliant leaders 
and through a people which deserves to have the crown of laurel 
bound about its brows. Compare with them the 'heroes' of this Re- 
public! Shirkers, Deserters, and Pacifists: these are its founders and 
their heroic acts consisted in leaving in the lurch the soldiers at the 
front . . . while at home against old men and half-starved children they 
carried through a revolutionary coup d'etat. They have quite simply 
got together their November-State by theft! In the face of the armies 
returning wearied from the front these thieves have still posed as the 
saviours of the Fatherland! They declared the Pacifist-Democratic 
Republic. . . .'- 

Hitler attacked democracy as such, considering that it led directly 
to Bolshevism. 

... At all times it has been the principles of Democracy which have 
brought peoples to ruin. And if Germany has fallen in the last fourteen 
years that was only because the representation of the principles of 
Democracy was carried to such lengths that its fathers and representa- 
tives in Germany did as a matter of fact stand even below the average 
of those numbers whose supremacy they preach. They themselves have 
been so mediocre, so small, such dwarfs that they possess no right what- 
ever to raise themselves above the masses. Never has any system or any 
Government left its place in a more melancholy, more miserable, 
more mediocre fashion than did the representatives of the present 

' The Road to Serfdom. F. A. Hayek. London. 1944. Chap. VIII. 
= The Speeches of Adolf Hitler. Ed. by N. H. Baynes. 2 Vols. Oxford, 1942. Vol. I. 
p. 81. 

' Hitler, op. cit. p. 256. 


Hitler voiced a less personal criticism of democracy in deploring 
the fate of a country in which the government represents a particular 

. . . for then the regime will be dependent upon the wishes of individual 
economic groups and will thus become the servant of one-sided 
economic interests, and therefore be incapable of rising above the 
natural economic hopes of individuals in order to protect the justifiable 
interests of the community. But a Government cannot serve the 
interests of employers on the one hand or of workmen on the other, it 
cannot serve city or country, trade or industry, but exclusively the 
whole people. . . .' 

There was sufficient substance in arguments such as these to gain 
for Hitler a measure of genuine support from those honestly con- 
vinced that he was right. This support was not considerable, it is 
true, until after the economic crisis of 1929. By April, 1932, never- 
theless, the National Socialists polled nearly thirteen and a half 
million votes; votes for a party leader whose avowed aim was to make 
himself dictator. It is incidentally manifest that, had Hitler died at 
that point, the dictatorship would have gone to someone else. Brun- 
ing had been ruling dictatorially, for that matter, from 1929 and many 
assumed that this conservative reaction would continue. M think it is 
a safe prophecy' wrote H. J. Laski, 'that the Hitlerite movement has 
passed its apogee'. This prophecy was uttered on November 19th, 
1932." Hitler came to power on January 30th, 1933. 

The notoriety of these two examples, that of Italy and that of 
Germany should not persuade us to base any conclusion upon those 
examples alone. It would not be true to say that all social-democratic 
governments end in dictatorship. Nor would it be true to say that 
dictatorships arise in no other way. As against that, it must be con- 
ceded that the tendency exists and that many modern dictatorships 
did in fact arise on the ruins of some experiment in democracy. 
Dr. Alfred Cobban recognises this in his study of dictatorship and 
goes so far as to say that 'The historic task of many parliamentary 
systems appears to have been to prepare the way for the sovereignty 
of a dictator'. He continues: 

Dictatorship in modern times has arisen so often out of so-called 
democratic institutions that it seems almost as though it could not 
appear where there had been no previous attempt at self-government; 
but whereas the decline of traditional authorities is an invariable pre- 
requisite of dictatorship, the establishment of what might be called a 
democratic government is not always to be found among the events 
preceding its rise. In the Greek cities, for example, we often seem to 

' Hitler, op. cit. p. 453. 

■ Daily Herald, quoted in R. Palme Dutt. op. cit. p. 124. 


pass directly from the overthrow of an aristocracy to the rule of a 
tyrant. In the modern world, however, a positive attempt at govern- 
ment by the people, however false or fleeting, has nearly always inter- 
vened between the fall of an hereditary monarchy, and the establish- 
ment of dictatorial rule.^ 

But if the examples briefly cited afford no foundation upon which 
to base an invariable rule governing the origin of dictatorship, they 
are equally insufficient to prove that dictatorship is manifestly harm- 
ful. Any detailed study of dictatorship in modern history must 
certainly reveal examples to the contrary.- Count Carlo Sforza had to 
admit that Porfirio Diaz governed Mexico well.^ Most historians will 
admit that there was much to say for Eleutherios Venizelos and more to 
say for Mustafa Kemal. Pilsudski, Primo de Rivera, Dollfuss and 
Salazar have their admirers still. And even in the instances cited of 
frankly tyrannical rule it is not always clear that the possible alterna- 
tives would not have been worse. In a comparison of tangible achieve- 
ment many dictatorships might be found to have a better record than 
many democracies. The main objection to dictatorship is not that it is 
inefficient or harsh but simply that it cannot last more than a lifetime 
and that its termination may involve civil war. The final criticism of 
dictatorship comes not from its enemies but from its defenders. For 
the more fervent they are in a dictator's praise, the more hopeless 
(they imply) will the situation be when he dies. 

We must not forget that Mussolini is the man who gave himself 
entirely to the great cause, animating it by his intelligence and his 
robust military temperament. Fascism does not make an idol of him, 
but it admires him for his political correctness, for the clearness of his 
outlook, and for his wisdom in action. Above all, it knows that, with- 
out Mussolini, it would be like an orphan or a crippled child, and that, 
without his vivifying inspiration, it would eventually fall under the 
blows of a victorious enemy.* 

The sternest critic of fascism can add little to that. 

' Dictatorship, Its History and Theory. Alfred Cobban. London, 1939. p. 260. 

- See Dictatorship in the Modern World. Ed. by G. S. Ford. Minnesota, 1935-37. 
See also The Story of dictatorship from the earliest times till to-dav. E. E. Kellett. London, 

' European Dictatorships. Count Carlo Sforza. London, 1932. 

' The Fascist Movement in Italian Life. P. Gorgolini. Trans, by M. D. Petre. London, 
1923. p. 213. 


The Theory of Dictatorship 

THE part played by authors in shaping the pohtical destinies of 
mankind has often been exaggerated. Few dictators have seized 
power with a weapon in one hand and a textbook in the other. What 
they have done, however, more especially in recent times, has been to 
choose from the available literature such books as seemed useful in 
exhorting the faithful or persuading the public. By the books thus 
chosen they have been influenced in details, at least, of policy. We 
shall not overestimate that influence if we remember that the dictator 
chose the book from among a dozen others, all containing less 
palatable advice; it was not the author who chose the dictator from 
among a group of other candidates. Within these limits it is clear 
that authors have had their influence, both upon dictators and upon 
the peoples they ruled. Not all dictators have been illiterate. 
Mussolini, while remarking that 'The reality of experience is far 
more eloquent than all the theories and doctrines of all languages 
and all bookshelves',^ was careful to emphasise that he had his 
cultural side. His official biographer tells us of him that, 

As a young man he devoted long hours to the study and the trans- 
lation of German authors, such as Nietzche, Schopenhauer, Stirner, 
Weininger, Marx, Schiller, Klopstock, von Platen, Heine, Goethe and 
Hegel. His favourite Italian authors are Dante, Carducci, Oriani, 
Foscolo, Pareto; his French favourites are Sorel, Blanqui, Balzac, 
Le Bon. He reads and re-reads Plato, and likes to discuss Phaedon's 
arguments on the immortality of the soul. Occasionally he reviews 
some new publication. He listens to the operas of Wagner, Verdi, and 
Puccini, but 'T adore Beethoven', he says. . . .- 

Had he in fact read as widely as this? He probably had in so far as a 
journalist ever reads anything. He had certainly read Sorel. What of 
the other dictators? Bolivar had read a great deal and so no doubt 
had Venizelos. Adolf Hitler had read within the narrow range of his 
own ideas, being willing and even eager to compare the theories of 
Chamberlain with those of Rosenberg. He had read Moller van den 
Briick's book, The Third Realm (1922) in which liberalismis denounced 

^ The official life of Benito Mussolini. Georgia P'lni. Trans, by Luigi Villari. London, 
1939. p. 229. 
'Ibid. p. 241. 



as the gospel of anarchy and Mberals as persons who consider their 
own interests, never those of society or the State. He had read with 
interest the works of Schopenhauer and Carlyle's biography of 
Frederick the Great. ^ He had read Machiavelli's Prince.'^ He is more 
remarkable, however, in having written and published his bible and 
manifesto long before he came to power. As it contained the detailed 
programme of all that he intended to do, it might have been of con- 
siderable value to the Ministers of the democratic states. He evidently 
relied, however, upon their never having read that (or, in some cases, 
anything else) — or upon their not believing it. Events were to justify 
his confidence but it is an aspect of his career which is surely unique. 
Apart from that, Mein Ka m pf gWcs us an unusually clear and frank 
picture of his mental development as also of his mental limitations. 
He had gained inspiration from a number of sources. Studying what 
he had read we know also by what authors he was indirectly 
influenced. We can trace his ideas to their origin. The same is true of 
Mussolini. And, having so traced the ancestry of modern dictatorship 
we must agree that it is worthy of study. 

'Sorel is the key to all contemporary thought' wrote Wyndham 
Lewis,^ and Benedetto Croce regarded Sorel as the only original 
socialist thinker other than Karl Marx. In a sense, this is true, but to 
begin with Sorel would be to ignore Nietzche, which hardly seems 
possible. For whereas socialism will normally lead to dictatorship, 
whether as a result of its success or failure, the gospel of the Super- 
man reaches the same goal by a different route; and would reach it 
just the same even if no such doctrine as socialism had ever been 
evolved. The Superman idea was to some extent endemic in Germany 
and can be traced to Fichte (1762-1814) and even to Kant (1724-1804). 
Kant taught, among other things, that the united will of the people 
could be embodied in and represented by a single individual. The 
same idea appears in the later works of Fichte (1762-1814). This 
philosopher held that the progress of mankind is not attributable to 
peoples as a whole but to the creative genius of heroes and scholars — ■ 
'Heroes who left their age far behind them, giants among surrounding 
men in material and spiritual power'.* Intellectual giants such as these 
should be the rulers as well as teachers of mankind. They should 
appoint the wisest and greatest among them to be the supreme 
dictator. Fichte was rather vague about the process of election and 
succession but concluded hopefully that it could be left to the hand 
of God. 'Sooner or later a man will arise who is both the ruler of his 

' See Hitler's Table Talk. Trans, by H. R. Trevor-Roper. London, 1953. pp. XXIX, 
89, 358. See also Mein Kampf. Adolf Hitler. 2 vols. London, 1939. p. 256, 227. 

^ Hitler Speaks. Herman Rauschning. London, 1939. p. 267. 

= The Art of being Ruled. Wyndham Lewis. London, 1926. p. 128. 

* From Luther to Hitler, the History of Fascist-Nazi political philosophy. W. M. 
McGovern. London, 1946. p. 255. 


country and the most just of his countrymen. Such a man will 
certainly find a way to establish the succession of the best\^ It is an 
optimistic conclusion, and worldly experience would suggest that 
a meeting of intellectuals, summoned to elect the wisest of them all, 
might prove more acrimonious than Fichte seems to anticipate. 

Another exponent of the German love of authority was Hegel 
(1770-1831) for whom the State was the Divine Idea as it exists on 
earth. He regarded Alexander, Caesar and Napoleon as so many 
unconscious agents of the World Spirit, meeting their death only 
when their earthly mission had been fulfilled. To the national State 
of the nineteenth century Hegel assigned a permanence as representing 
the final and perfect development of political institutions, created by 
the World Spirit working through man. He assigned to the State, 
moreover, an importance which he denied to the individual. The 
State to him was an end in itself and had 'the highest right over the 
individual, whose highest duty in turn is to be a member of the state'. ^ 
States have unequal value, however, and at a given period the domi- 
nant idea of that period 'is embodied in a dominant people'.^ The 
mere success of that people is proof of their being more in accord 
with the World Spirit than the others. Hegel considered that mon- 
archy is essential to good government and achieves its perfection in 
its constitutional form. All this was acceptable doctrine in the Prussia 
of his day and well calculated to transform the professor of 1818 into 
the University Rector of 1830. To one not fascinated (as the Germans 
were) by the obscurity of his diction, Hegelian dialectic might seem 
no more important than that. Hegel, however, whether profound or 
not, was certainly important, if only through the historical role of 
his disciples, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Ferdinand Lasalle. It 
is perhaps significant that in Hegel the arguments for dictatorship and 
the arguments for socialism can be traced to a common source. 

In the development, however, of the doctrine of Superman, it is 
easy to exaggerate the part played by German professors of philo- 
sophy. It is true that potential dictators, like Mussolini, could turn 
for inspiration to Hegel. But they would gain more encouragement by 
going direct to the source of Hegel's inspiration: the Prussia of 
Bismarck, as heir to the Prussia of Frederick the Great. In so far as 
authors were to provide inspiration, the two that mattered most were 
probably Thomas Carlyle and Friedrich Nietzche, not so much 
because of their profundity as because of their literary gifts. The 
arguments for dictatorship are largely emotional and aesthetic and 
need poetic rather than purely intellectual expression. Carlyle was too 
much of a literary man to spend much time on Kant or Fichte, 

^ Ibid. p. 255. 
- Ibid. p. 300. 
^ Ibid. p. 318. 


fervently as he professed to admire them both. Nor was he himself a 
systematic thinker on political problems. His views are implicit, 
rather, in what he had to write about the French Revolution, Heroes 
and Hero-Worship and Frederick the Great. History was to him 'the 
biography of great men' — of men like Luther, Oliver Cromwell and 
Goethe. He had nothing to say in praise of hereditary monarchy, 
aristocracy or plutocracy, but neither can we find that he liked democ- 
racy any better. He could see in it nothing but 'a swift transition 
towards something other and farther' for the people were, after all, 
'mostly fools'. Rule must be vested in the wise few, not in the in- 
numerable and foolish. Over the few he would set a single ruler — a 
king. He wanted to see '. . . Hero-kings, and a whole world not 
unheroic. . . .'^ How is the king to be appointed? Carlyle does not say, 
but his expressed admiration for Cromwell and Napoleon is at least 
suggestive. He infers that the hero will arise to meet the need of the 

From a bare recital of this lame conclusion it might well be 
thought that Carlyle's disciples would be few. But his strength, his 
appeal as an author, does not lie in argument but in a picturesque 
violence. He does not so much preach violence as exemplify it 
attractively. He does not so much defend dictatorship as describe it 
in terms of hero-worship. How does he define heroism? 

The Hero is he who lives in the inward sphere of things, in the True, 
Divine, and Eternal, which exists always, unseen to most, under the 
Temporary, Trivial: his being is in that; he declares that abroad, by 
act or speech as it may be, in declaring himself abroad. His life, as we 
said before, is a piece of the everlasting heart of Nature herself: all 
men's life is, — but the weak many know not the fact, and are untrue 
to it, in most times; the strong few are strong, heroic, perennial, 
because it cannot be hidden from them.- 

Heroes, as thus defined, are born from time to time, and it is upon 
these that all depends. 

To me. . . . 'Hero-worship' becomes a fact inexpressibly precious; 
the most solacing fact one sees in the world at present. There is an 
everlasting hope in it for the management of the world. Had all 
traditions, arrangements, creeds, societies that men ever instituted, 
sunk away, this would remain. The certainty of Heroes being sent us; 
our faculty, our necessity, to reverence Heroes when sent; it shines like 
a pole-star through smoke-clouds, dust-clouds, and all manner of 
down-rushing and conflagration.^ 

Apart from prophets, Carlyle finds that Cromwell fits best into his 

' McGovern. op. cil. p. 200. 

- Carlyle's T/ieory of the Hero. B. H. Lehman. North Carolina, 1928. p. 41. See also 
Carlyle and Hitler. H. J. C. Grierson. Cambridge, 1933. 

^Sartor Resartus: Lectures on Heroes, etc. T. Carlyle. London, 1892. pp. 336-337. 


idea of the heroic role. He cannot summon up quite the same feehng 
about Napoleon. 

... I find in him no such sincerity as in Cromwell; only a far inferior 
sort. No silent walking, through long years, with the Awful Un- 
namable of this Universe ; 'walking with God', as he called it ; and faith 
and strength in that alone: latent thought and valour, content to lie 
latent, then burst-out as in blaze of Heaven's lightning! Napoleon 
lived in an age when God was no longer believed ... he had to begin 
not out of the Puritan Bible, but out of poor Sceptical Encyclo- 
pedies. . . .^ 

This last disadvantage, almost excluding Napoleon from the ranks 
of the heroes, was shared by most of those who came later still in 
history. Carlyle, contemporary as he was of (say) Abraham Lincoln, 
could find no heroes in his own day, save Goethe. He makes it clear, 
nevertheless, in Past cifui Present that further heroes are to be expected. 
More than that, they are to be recognised. Of the Hero, he writes 

... His place is with the stars of heaven. ... To this man death is not a 
bugbear; to this man life is aFready as earnest and awful, and beautiful 
and terrible, as death. 

Not a May-game is this man's life; but a battle and a march, a 
warfare with principalities and powers ... a stern pilgrimage through 
burning sandy solitudes, through regions of thick-ribbed ice. He 
walks among men; loves men, with inexpressible soft pity — as they 
cannot love him: but his soul dwells in solitude, in the uttermost parts 
of Creation. In green oases by the palm-tree wells, he rests a space; but 
anon he has to journey forward, escorted by the Terrors and the 
Splendours, the Archdemons and Archangels. All Heaven, all Pande- 
monium are his escort. The stars keen-glancing, from the Immensities, 
send tidings to him; the graves, silent with their dead, from the 
Eternities. Deep calls for him unto Deep. 

Thou, O World, how wilt thou secure thyself against this man? 
... He is thy born king, thy conqueror and supreme lawgiver: not all 
the guineas and cannons . . . under the sky can save thee from him. . . . 
Oh, if in this man, whose eyes can flash Heaven's lightning . . . there 
dwelt not, as the essence of his very being, a God's justice, human 
Nobleness, Veracity and Mercy — 1 should tremble for the world. 
But his strength, let us rejoice to understand, is even'this: The quantity 
of Justice, of Valour and Pity that is in him. To hypocrites and tailored 
quacks in high places, his eyes are lightning; but they melt in dewy 
pity softer than a mother's to the downpressed, maltreated; in his 
heart, in his great thought, is a sanctuary for all the wretched. This 
world's improvement is forever sure.- 

Improvement there will be but Carlyle makes it clear that nothing 
of this sort is to be expected of a Parliament. 

' Carlyle. op. cit. p. 363. 
' /hid. p. 297. 


A Government such as ours, consisting of from seven to eight 
hundred Parliamentary Talkers, with their escort of Able Editors and 
Public Opinion; and for head, certain Lords and Servants of the 
Treasury, and Chief Secretaries and others who find themselves at 
once Chiefs and No-Chiefs, and often commanded rather than 
commanding, — is doubtless a most complicate entity, and none of the 
alertest for getting on with business!^ 

Indeed, he turns with relief from Parliament and gazes with some 
respect at the Horse Guards. By comparison, he feels that the War 
Office has achieved something, created an army out of 'runaway 
apprentices, starved weavers, thievish valets'. The soldier offers a 
kind of reality — 'He is a fact and not a shadow'. Then he continues: 

. . . Most potent, effectual for all work whatsoever, is wise planning, 
firm combining and commanding among men. Let no man despair of 
Government who looks on these two sentries at the Horse-Guards, 
and our United-Service Clubs! 1 could conceive an Emigration 
Service, a Teaching Service, considerable varieties of United and 
Separate Services, of the due thousands strong, all effective as this 
Fighting Service is; all doing their work, like it; — which work, much 
more than fighting, is henceforth the necessity of these New Ages we 
are got into! Much lies among us, convulsively, nigh desperately 
struggling to be bornr 

Carlyle calls for a military efficiency in combating Falsehood, 
Nescience, Delusion, Disorder and the Devil. He asks that something 
of the British competence displayed in war should be mobilised 
against bad drainage and dirt and soot. Forty soldiers, he points out, 
will disperse the largest Spitalfields mob. Why should governmental 
energy be confined to that? He wants government to 'order all dingy 
Manufacturing Towns to cease from their soot and darkness' — a plea 
still being made by others a century later and with as little result. He 
demands an education service and a Captain-General of Teachers. 
He wants to see vigorous action and doubts whether he will ever see 
it in Parliament. 

it is at that point that he tends to lose the sympathy of those who 
are otherwise to be counted among his British admirers. Dr. G. M. 
Trevelyan, profoundly shocked, finds that Carlyle's genius declined 
after 1851. 

Fortunately Carlyle's later and worse doctrines in dispraise of 
Parliamentary government had singularly little influence on the Eng- 
lish, even during those last years when his countrymen so much revered 
him. There was indeed no period in our history when Parliamentary 
government was so universally acceptable, and despotism more 

' Carlyle. op. cit. p. 297. 

' Ibid. p. 275. Past and Present. 

' Carlyle, an Anthology. G. M. Trevelyan. London, 1953. Introduction, p. 5. 


This may well be true, even of the year 1843 when he was writing 
Past and Present and long before his genius had, in Trevelyan's view, 
deteriorated. But it is that very fact, supposing it admitted, that makes 
his criticism more striking. It is not the unreformed Parliament he is 
attacking, nor the corruption of the early twentieth century. The 
Parliament he dismisses as hopelessly inactive and useless can clearly 
be taken as Parliament at its best. It has never, surely, had a com- 
parable prestige before or since. His objection to Parliament is not 
that it is particularly corrupt or unrepresentative. Nor would he think 
the better of it were Parliament to be made more democratic. His 
complaint is merely that it does not work. 

Akin to Carlyle in some ways but born at a later date was Friedrich 
Nietzche (1844-1900). If the other apostles of violence and heroism 
were, without exception, academic and sedentary, Nietzche was 
practically an invalid. He was a believer, nevertheless, in the German 
equivalent of Carlyle's hero; the Superman. In his own words, 
'humanity must always act so as to bring men of genius into the 
world — this is its task; it has no other'. ^ He is less precise about the 
method to be chosen but emphatic that it can be done. One essential 
condition for the cultivation of genius is, he maintains, the institution 
of slavery. 'The misery of the men who struggle painfully through life 
must be increased to allow a small number of Olympic geniuses to 
produce great works of art'.- Another essential condition is the 
creation of an elite, a superior class from which the Superman can 
spring to a yet greater height. There is therefore, he concluded, a 
morality of masters and a morality of slaves. The masters despise 
weakness, cowardice, flattery and humility but respect strength, 
audacity, deceit and even cruelty. The principles of conduct main- 
tained among themselves are not applied to inferiors. The slaves have 
a different morality. They detest all that is violent, hard, terrible and 
destructive. They applaud the slave virtues of pity, benevolence, 
industry, humility and patience. Typical products of the slave 
mentality are the Jews who have equated misery with virtue, happiness 
with vice. Christianity, adopting the Jewish scale of values, has 
exalted the weak, consoling them with tales of a future happiness. 
These Christian ideas, spreading widely, have represented the triumph 
of the slave morality. This triumph of a religion of suffering has 
brought Europe to a state of decadence. Mediocrities rule who dare 
not even keep order. The chief symptom of decadence is democracy. The 
fashion is to demand a Society of equals, without masters or slaves, 
rich or poor, rulers or subjects. Nothing is to be left but the herd. 
Only the Superman can finally save mankind from this levelling 

' Sclwpenliauer as Educator, sec. 6. Quoted in Tlie Gospel of Superman. H. Lichlen- 
berger. Trans, by J. M. Kennedy. London, 1926. 
- Lichtenberger. op. cit. p. 61. 


tendency but it is the task of men as they are to recreate the conditions 
which will favour the Superman's rise. 

The gospel of Superman did not appeal to all but it did appeal to 
George Bernard Shaw, the non-democratic socialist. He gave expres- 
sion to his belief in the play Man and Superman, first published in 
1903.^ In a sort of postscript to that he writes: — 

The need for the Superman is, in its most imperative aspect, a 
political one. We have been driven to Proletarian Democracy by the 
failure of all the alternative systems; for these depended on the 
existence of Supermen acting as despots or oligarchs . . . [who were not 
forthcoming]. . . . 

Now we have yet to see the man who, having any practical experience 
of Proletarian Democracy, has any belief in its capacity for solving 
great political problems, or even for doing ordinary parochial work 
intelligently and economically. Only under despotisms and oligarchies 
has the Radical faith in 'universal suffrage" as a political panacea 
arisen. It withers the moment it is exposed to practical trial. . . .'- 

His preference may have been for a democracy of Supermen but 
the fact remains that he was attracted by the idea of dictatorship, 
going so far as to express a guarded approval of Mussolini.^ Views of 
this kind were virtually echoed by two of his outstanding contem- 
poraries, Hilaire Belloc and H. G. Wells. Nor, as late as 1928, had 
Shaw greatly changed his views. He knew that dictatorship has its 
major weakness in the succession difficulty but he also knew that 
democratic politicians had failed and failed repeatedly to solve even 
the simplest problems of the age. Universal suffrage he regarded as a 
delusion and a disappointment. 

At all events the bunch of carrots which for a whole century kept the 
electoral donkey pursuing it has now been overtaken and eaten without 
giving the poor beast the least refreshment. This is why Parliament has 
been pushed aside by Fascist Leaders in Germany and Italy, and 
reduced in Russia to a congress which meets at long intervals to ratify 
reforms, but has no effective hand in initiating them.^ 

He also saw that dictators could and did succeed where parliaments 
had failed. 

. . . All your wouldbe dictator has to do is to deal with fools according 
to their folly by giving them plenty of the stuff they like to swallow 
whilst he sets to work energetically on reforms that appeal to every- 
one's commonsense and comfort, and stops the more obvious abuses 

' Man and Superman. A Comedy and a P/iilosop/iv. By Bernard Shaw. London, 1931. 
See pp. 184-5. 

= Shaw. op. cit. p. 184. 

^ See Dutt, R. P. George Bernard Shaw. London, 1951. 

^ The Intelligent Woman s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism. 
Bernard Shaw. London, 1949. p. 476. 


of the existing order. His first step will be to abolish all the little 
councils of elderly local tradesmen. ... He will substitute energetic 
and capable young prefects with absolute powers from himself to clean 
up the provinces; and by this he will not only effect a speedy improve- 
ment in local government, but will do it in a way which exactly fits in 
with the popular desire to get rid of a lot of vulgar old tradesmen and 
employ some superior person to set things right. ^ 

He emphasises that these and more ruthless measures will be 

. . . When the Leader speaks of the Liberals and their bag of rights and 
liberty with masterful contempt, and calls for discipline, order, silence, 
patriotism and devotion to the State of which he is the embodiment, 
the people respond enthusiastically and leave the Liberals to rot in 
the penal islands, concentration camps, and prisons into which they 
have been flung. . . .- 

Fascism also gets rid of the absurdity of a senselessly obstructive 
Party Opposition, resulting in parliaments where half the members are 
trying to govern and the other half trying to prevent them. . . .^ 

In the final analysis, Bernard Shaw's main objection to Fascism is 
that it is not Socialism — although (as he admits) closely resembling 
it. He considers that Fascism is doomed simply because it is capital- 
istic. He considers that liberal democracy is also doomed and for the 
same reason. In the meanwhile, of the two evils, he prefers Fascism 
'in so far as it produces a United Front with a public outlook'. 

If Fascist or Nazi ideas could be as attractive as this to a great 
Irishman, who finally condemned them as childish, they naturally 
appealed more forcibly to people with wilder emotions and fewer 
brains. Outstanding among these, and wielding considerable influence 
in Germany, was Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1926), an 
Englishman who went abroad for his health, first to Austria and then 
in 1900, to Germany. His principal work was entitled ^The Foundations 
of the Nineteenth Century', and was published in 1899. Chamberlain 
took some of his nonsensical doctrines about racial purity and in- 
equality from Gobineau (1816-1882) but is more interesting, or more 
to our present purpose, when he discusses democracy. 

To tell the truth, all nations of the earth are sick and tired of parlia- 
ments; tired of the sacred general franchise; tired of the ever-running 
flow of oratory, which threatens to drown the whole of the civilised 
world, as in a new Deluge. 

He asks what part the people should play in government and 
answers his question thus: — 

' Shaw. op. cit. p. 479. 
- Ihid. p. 480. 
=■ /6/W. p. 481. 


The people will be the unconscious root, supplying nutriment, the 
reserve of forces, and will then prove themselves as efficient as now in 
the German army. As soon as the people are brought to silence, their 
voice is most distinctly heard. Their speech is not dialectic, but some- 
thing which far surpasses it. A monarch may be represented, a class, a 
profession — a people cannot be represented. The people are nature, 
and a Mr. Muller or Mr. Meyer is as little able to represent them as he 
is to represent a mountain or a wood. This pretended representation of 
the people does nothing but destroy the real vigour of the people and 
cause a chaos. It causes restlessness and, therefore, anxiety. It consumes 
every root fibre which would have served to sustain life. It stultifies by 
its debate and nullifies all great plans by its disputes. In addition to this, 
like a monstrous dragon, it swallows mountains of strength and 
oceans of time, all of which are lost for ever for the life of the nation. 
The people naturally recognise and foster great characters; parliament 
invariably refuses to tolerate any talent that arises above medi- 
ocrity. . . .^ 

Central to the groups of thinkers who had come to regard liberal 
democracy with contempt was Richard Wagner (1813-1883). If 
Strauss may be said to have composed the background music for the 
Holy Alliance, Wagner certainly provided the musical accompani- 
ment for the drama of dictatorship. It was he too who was responsible 
for those cavorting Nibelungs and Valkyries which played what seems 
to be (at first sight) an unnecessarily prominent role in the politics of 
the Third Reich. He was central to this school of thought in that he 
was for years a close friend of Nietzche, who wrote in his defence; a 
composer greatly admired by Bernard Shaw;- and the father-in-law 
of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Wagner was sufficiently active in 
the Dresden insurrection of 1848-49 to suffer years of exile in 
Switzerland. He was sufficiently prolific to leave behind him ten 
volumes of published prose. It was, nevertheless, his music which 
had the greater effect in furthering the emotional cause, in stilling 
the voice of reason, in heightening the operatic effect of violence as 
its own excuse. Adolf Hitler could find in Tarmhduser or Lohengrin 
any inspiration he might fail to draw from mountain scenery or tea- 
time buns. The mad King Ludwig of Bavaria had pensioned Wagner 
in the first place and a later Bavarian hero was to be carried away 
more fatally by the dramatic force of drums and wind. Adolf Hitler 
first became obsessed with Wagner in his Vienna days when he saw 
Tristan thirty or forty times; ever afterwards maintaining that this is 
Wagner's masterpiece. His first contact with the Wagner family was 

' The Ravings of a Renegade; being the War Essays of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. 
Trans, by G. H. Clarke. London. 1915. 

-See Major Critical Essays. The Perfect Wagnerite. G. B. Shaw. London, 1948. 
pp. 187, 244, 245. Wagner, originally a friend of Bakunin, was much influenced by 
Schopenhauer's treatise on 'The world as Will and Representation' in which instinct 
and reason are contrasted. Wagner also hated the Jews. 


indirectly through the son-in-law — ('Houston Stewart Chamberlain 
wrote to me so nicely when I was in prison') — but he evidently met 
Wagner's widow, Cosima, for the first time in 1925. He had just 
emerged from jail and went to stay with Frau Bechstein at Bayreuth 
for the Festival. The Wagners, Cosima and Siegfried, lived a few 
yards away, and a friendship began, with drives into the Franconian 
mountains and evenings at the opera with Cleving at his best in 
Parsifal. 'I was also present' said Hitler in 1942, 'at the Ring and the 
Meistersinger. The fact that the Jew Schorr was allowed to sing the 
role of Wotan had the effect of a profanation on me. Why couldn't 
they have got Rode from Munich?' Despite this shock, the visit was 
a success. Hitler remained on Christian-name terms with the Wagners, 
remarking afterwards that it was Cosima's merit 'to have created the 
link between Bayreuth and National Socialism'. The link was 
certainly there. Hitler owned several of Wagner's original scores and 
would sigh, on occasion, 'What joy each of Wagner's works has 
given me!'^ 

It is easy to see what is absurd in Wagnerian politics, even when 
related to the portentous conclusions of German philosophers, stated 
with all the violence of the sedentary, the bookish and the sick. It is 
easier still, however, to forget that theories generally false may be 
based on some beliefs that are perfectly true. And the truth which 
lurks amid the Fascist falsities is that liberal democracy is dreary, 
deadening and dull. That is not a theory but a fact; and when 
Chamberlain said that people are sick and tired of parliaments, he 
was telling the literal truth. The spectacle of drab little men moving 
amendments to drab little proposals is seldom inspiring. It lacks the 
pageantry which the normal human being needs. The enthusiast can 
explain its significance to schoolboys and may even gain their 
reluctant assent. But the pageant of a coronation needs no explana- 
tion. The critic who grumbles about the cost is answered not by 
arguments but by the clatter of the cavalry, the thunder of the psalm, 
the glitter of the sword blades and the spine-shivering shrillness of the 
trumpets' chord. Words are worse than useless. The thing explains 
itself. And that is exactly what the average modern legislature fails to 
do. Its proceedings are usually as colourless as its ideas. Round its 
prim procedure there hangs the slight but unmistakable smell of 
political corruption. Its atmosphere is heavy with failure; failure to 
achieve anything, failure to agree and failure even to arouse any 
public interest in what has been attempted. 

' See Hitler's Table Talk. Trans, and edited by H. R. Trevor-Roper. London, 1953. 
pp. 147, 240-242 and 283. Oswald Spengler, whom Hitler consulted before the forrner 
died in 1936 saw in Tristan the finale of western music. He also points out the affinity 
between Wagner and the painter, Manet 'which Baudelaire with his unerring flair for 
the decadent detected at once'. See The Decline of the West. Oswald Spengler. 2 vols. 
Trans, by C. F. Atkinson. New York, 1947. Vol. I. p. 292. 


Among the nineteenth-twentieth century thinkers who most 
clearly perceived this failure was Georges Sorel (1847-1922). Unlike 
many political theorists, he had some practical experience; not of 
politics but of roads and bridges.^ As a Frenchman and, after his 
retirement, a Parisian by choice, he was privileged to contemplate 
perhaps the least inspiring of the uninspired republics. His views 
veered from socialism to syndicalism, from royalism to anarchy. He 
can be quoted in defence of many political creeds. The syndicalists, 
whose prophet he once was, bequeathed to Mussolini a single (and 
useful) constructive idea; that of providing for the political rep- 
resentations of trades and professions rather than of areas or places. 
But that is not Sorel's importance in the present context. His Reflec- 
tions on Violence, which first appeared in 1906, emphasise the need 
for an irrational and romantic heroism. Among the first to apply 
psychology to politics, he held that a political movement needs not a 
rational creed but a myth. Without a mythology it cannot succeed. 
He dismissed the socialism of Sidney Webb as the typical product of 
a second-class mind.- He rejected statistical arguments and called for 
a myth, defined as 'a body of images capable of evoking sentiment 
instinctively'.^ His chosen myth was that of the General Strike, con- 
sidered as a political panacea. He rejected the myth of the Barricades, 
observing sorrowfully that 'Civil war has become very difficult since 
the discovery of the new firearms, and since the cutting of rectilinear 
streets in the capital towns'. This was a natural reflection for a 
revolutionary Parisian living in the Paris replanned by Haussmann for 
Napoleon ill, and his general strike was a poor substitute for some- 
thing better. His own chosen myth came to little in France and to less 
in the England of 1926. But the idea of the Myth has taken root. 

Experience shows that the framing of a future, in some indeter- 
minate time, may, when it is done in a certain way, be very effective, 
and have very few inconveniences; this happens when the anticipa- 
tions of the future take the form of those myths, which enclose with 
them all the strongest inchnations of a people, of a party or of a class, 
inclinations which recur to the mind with the insistence of instincts in 
all the circumstances of life; and which give an aspect of complete 
reality to the hopes of immediate action by which, more easily than by 
any other method, men can reform their desires, passions, and mental 

' Bernard Shaw very rightly observes that V/agncr also had practical experience. 
'It is possible' he observes 'to learn more of the world by producing a single opera, or 
even conducting a single orchestral rehearsai, than by ten years reading in the library 
of the British Museum'. Wagner is thus contrasted favourably with Karl Marx. Sec 
Shaw. op. (It. p. 244. 

' Ri'llections on Violence. Georges Sorel. Trans, by T. E. Hulme. London, 1915. See 
also Tlie Mvtii of the Stale. Ernst Cassirer. Yale, 1946. 

" ll)id. p. 75. 

' IhUL p. 133. 


Later in the same book Sorel asks what motive can inspire the 
worker in a sociaHst state, what motive comparable with that which 
inspires a soldier in battle. 

Economic progress goes far beyond the individual life, and profits 
future generations more than those who create it; but does it give 
glory? Is there an economic epic capable of stimulating the en- 
thusiasm of the workers?^ 

If no such epic has been found in modern times, it is certainly not 
from any lack of energy in the search. From Mussolini's Pontine 
Marshes to Stalin's films about increased production we have seen 
the myth triumphant over fact or even probability. Sorel believed not 
in laboured reasoning but in mythology and resulting action. For 
representative assemblies he had no use at all."^ 

Government by all the citizens has never been anything but a 
fiction ; but this fiction was the last word of democratic science. No one 
has ever been able to justify this singular paradox according to which 
the vote of a chaotic majority is rhade to appear to be what Rousseau 
calls the general will which cannot err. In spite of their distrust of the 
Utopians of the eighteenth century, socialist writers often reproduce 
Rousseau's idea: they say that the state will no longer exist because, 
classes having disappeared, there will no longer be oppression in 
society and that then the public administration will truly represent the 
whole of the citizens. These affirmations are without a vestige of 
proof. . . ? 

His dislike of parliamentary government was intensified by the 
First World War and he wrote bitterly of the Allies' treatment of 
Germany and Italy. 

I am only an old man, whose life is at the mercy of the smallest 
accident; but may I before descending into the grave, witness the 
humiliation of the arrogant bourgeois democracies today so cynically 

It is a matter for doubt whether his wish was granted him. Dying 
in 1922, he had not lived long enough to see the humiliation of 
Munich. He had, however, witnessed the Washington Naval Treaty 
of 1921, the beginning of a process which would lead in the end, if 
not to Munich, at least to the fall of Singapore. 

Sorel left behind him not only his works but his disciples. Vilfredo 
Pareto survived him, it is true, for only a year, but Sorel's thought is 
reflected in the works of Marinetti, Palmieri and the other Fascist 

' Sorel, op. cit. p. 293. 

- See From Luther to Hitler. W. M. McGovern. London, 1946. p. 432. 
"^ Georges Sorel, Prophet without Honor. A study in anti-inteliectualism. Richard 
Humphrey. Harvard, 1951. p. 70. 
' Humphrey, op. cit. p. 21. 


apologists. Nor is it absent in the works of Benedetto Croce, who 
points out that the scope of the Myth in pohtics has been widened by 
elementary education: 

Popular education, which the liberal nineteenth century enthusi- 
astically inaugurated, has not fulfilled the hope of making the masses 
politically intelligent. They have become more the prey of emotional 
propaganda, drawing its strength from passion and imagination. . . . 
What the people want is not truth but some myth which flatters their 
feelings, and the first and unwelcome truth they need to be taught is to 
distrust the demagogues who excite and intoxicate them. . . .' 

Above all, we know of Sorel's influence upon Mussolini, who 
said in 1932: 

Every revolution creates new forms, new myths and new rites and 
the would-be revolutionist, while using old traditions, must refashion 
them. He must create new festivals, new gestures, new forms which 
will themselves become traditional." 

By 1932 the myth had indeed been established in the world. It was 
not, however, the myth which Sore! had wished to see installed. It 
was the myth of the all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful Leader; 
the dominant political theme of the twentieth century. We have 
seen democracy turn into dictatorship and we have seen some dic- 
tatorships collapse under the impact of military defeat. There are 
many to-day who expect to see these dictatorships replaced by 
democracy. Neither, however, in historical example nor in political 
theory can we find much reason to think this probable. After a 
dictator we should rather expect to see a King. 

My Philosophy. Benedetto Croce. Trans, by E. F. Carritt. London, 1949. p. 90. 
Quoted in McGovern. op. cit. p. 549. 


Dictatorship in Decay 

NOT all the arguments for dictatorship are either dishonest, 
romantic or false. We have seen what arguments have been 
used and those of substance can evidently be reduced to three. They 
are worth re-stating now. First of these is the argument which springs 
from the fact of genius. Persons with what appears to be divine 
inspiration — Gautama, Joan of Arc or Gandhi — are relatively few 
in the story of mankind. In retrospect it is often found that they were 
uncannily right when everyone else was wrong. We feel, looking back, 
that the people among whom they lived would have fared better had 
they done exactly what they were told to do. Is it not the sensible 
course to do what genius says should be done? Would not the Greeks 
have done well to make Socrates their leader? Would not the French 
have done better to instal St. Joan in supreme power? Were not the 
people of India wise to obey Gandhi as much as they did, and would 
they not have been wiser still had they obeyed him even more 
implicitly ? To believers in God there can be nothing very unreasonable 
in obeying those whom God has inspired. Non-believers, on the other 
hand, are usually ready to admit the fact that genius exists. If genius 
is known and admitted in music and painting — if John Sebastian 
Bach and Michaelangelo had genius — why should we question that 
there may be genius too in politics? Christopher Wr^n was apt to 
differ from his contemporaries in matters of architecture and engin- 
eering, and events have almost invariably proved that he was right and 
they were wrong. Are there no statesmen as prescient, and if there are, 
should we not entrust the supreme authority to them? 

To this argument many would reply that the genius may, by 
persuasion, gain acceptance of his ideas, achieving by example and 
argument what we do not allow him to achieve by force. To this 
Adolf Hitler has the answer: 

Is it an indispensable quality in a statesman that he should possess 
a gift of persuasion commensurate with the statesman's ability to 
conceive great political measures and carry them through into 
practice? . . . 

What shall the statesman do if he does not succeed in coaxing the 
parliamentary multitude to give its consent to his policy?' 

' Hitler, op. cit. p. 79. 



As an answer this is sufficient. Vision and strength are not neces- 
sarily accompanied by the arts of the demagogue. A genius apt for 
command cannot always stoop to persuade. More than that, the 
serene certainty of the man of vision is not always easy to convey. 
The more clearly he can see what has to be done, the fewer reasons 
he has to convince anyone else. The conclusion most easily explained 
to others is the conclusion reached by long and exhaustive elimina- 
tion. The conclusion most difficult to explain is the one reached in a 
flash — by a stroke, in fact, of genius. Not every man of genius has 
both the flash of inspiration and the wit to invent, afterwards, the 
argument which even the densest colleague will accept. 

The second argument for dictatorship is that any great political 
achievement is a work of art and that a work of art implies an artist. 
This is most obvious in architecture and planning. To re-plan the 
centre of London as Wren wished to re-plan it after the Fire of 
London implied, for success, a genius invested with dictatorial powers. 
The genius was available but the dictator was not. Historians were 
apt to wonder why nothing was done but need wonder no longer 
since they have seen exactly the same opportunity missed again in 
exactly the same way. Napoleon 111 had the power denied to Charles 
II and George VI, and modern Paris is the result. Wherever there is a 
city, a cathedral or a palace of monumental character and seemingly 
inevitable design, its plan is normally the concept of a single human 
brain. It is, in short, a work of art and subject to the same conditions 
in the making as apply to a painting, a statue, a concerto or an ode. 
Things of this kind are seldom the result of collaboration, rarely 
affected by a majority vote, and never safely attributable to a 
committee. The artist normally signs his work, accepting full res- 
ponsibility for it. And when he leaves out the signature it is often 
because none is needed. No seventeenth century general had to be 
told that a fortress had been planned by Vauban; he could see that for 
himself. A modern art critic will as readily — if not quite as certainly — 
— attribute a canvas to Rembrandt or Vermeer. 

Between the planning of a palace and the founding of a city the 
difference is only one of degree. The founder of a city may well be the 
founder of the state or colony of which it is to be the capital. It is 
natural for him to plan the streets and bridges, the boundaries and 
the roads. He will reserve the parks and name the hills. Then he will 
deal with the drainage and water supply, laying down what is to 
constitute an offence against public health. He will define the limits of 
the harbour and decide what dues shall be paid for anchorage or 
ballast. This will compel him to decide whether the local and harbour 
authorities are to be distinct; if they are, he must draft a constitution 
for each; and indeed a code of laws. But laws will require amendment 


or repeal from time to time, which implies a legislature. They must 
be enforced, which implies an executive. ... At what point in this 
scheme of work should the single artist, with his vision of the com- 
pleted whole, give place to a committee representative of the different 
interests? The answer is not obvious, and the founder of a colony 
might be forgiven for regarding the whole thing as a single work of 
art, and himself the artist whose signature it will bear to all eternity. 
Should he later, however, rise to high rank in a country already long 
established but in a state of disorder and chaos, he will not think 
that the problems to be solved are markedly different from those of 
the new colony he formerly ruled with such success. The canvas may 
be old but his skill has, if anything, matured. Given a free hand, he 
could make something of it yet. If the state is to be a work of art, 
there must be an artist: and an artist is essentially a dictator. 

The third argument for dictatorship is that a swift decision, one 
way or the other, is often preferable to an endless argument. This was 
recognised from an early period at sea, where the oldest law still in 
force runs thus: — '//; a ship one man is master'. It is nowhere stated 
that the one man is the wisest, the oldest or the most experienced. All 
that we know about him is that he is one, the master; and not a 
committee. Committees at sea have been tried but results have 
shown that it is better to decide on something, on anything, rather 
than hold a debate as to which policy is best. When a vessel is on a 
dangerous lee shore, safety may lie in beating out to sea or, alterna- 
tively, in dropping anchor where she is. There may be cogent argu- 
ments to put forward in support of either policy. There may well be 
two schools of thought, and possibly a third group eager to find a 
compromise acceptable to both. But long and sad experience has 
shown that a prolonged discussion would be unwise. It :s better to let 
the master decide and compel the rest to obey. For the master's 
decision (irrespective of his abihty) has a fifty per cent chance of being 
right, while the delay caused by an argument has a hundred per cent 
chance of being wrong. 

What is obviously true at sea is almost as manifestly true in a time 
of crisis on land. In a battle, a revolution or riot, the promptness of a 
decision is often more important than the decision itself. Victory 
may result from going to the left or to the right. It may in fact be 
attained equally by either route. But it seldom results from a mere 
inability to decide upon one or the other. Nor is this consideration 
paramount only on the battlefield. The reasoning which induces us 
to place one general in command of an army will equally lead us to 
place one headmaster in charge of a school, one leader in charge of an 
alpine expedition, one producer in charge of a play, one surgeon in 
charge of an operation, one physicist in control of a nuclear physics 


laboratory or one Commissioner in charge of the Metropohtan 
Police. We entrust a certain kind of responsibility to an individual, 
not primarily because he is outstanding but simply because he is 
singular. Granted the wisdom of this practice, the question rises as 
to where it should begin and end. The office of dictator was a Roman 
expedient to deal with a crisis in public affairs. But such a crisis, with 
prompt decisions needed the whole time, may last for years. A state 
may be so situated, in fact, as to be in a perpetual state of crisis. 
Are there not states then so situated, at least at a certain period, in 
which a dictatorship is advisable — or even essential? 

Here then are the three chief arguments for dictatorship in general, 
based respectively upon the use to be made of genius, the unity of 
conception required to produce a work of art and the need for a 
single chief if quick decisions are to be made. Such arguments have 
been used to justify any dictatorship at any period of history. But the 
present century has certain technical features which, while lending 
additional point to the arguments previously used, amount to a new 
argument in themselves and one apphcable to the present time. The first 
feature to observe concerns the art of war. We have all read history 
books which emphasise the changes in the art of war which accom- 
panied the Renaissance. Firearms, we were told, made the armoured 
knight obsolete. He became vulnerable to a hand-gun which the mere 
serf could fire. His castle became vulnerable to cannon. And so 
political power tended to pass from the nobility to the king; and also, 
in some degree, to the peasantry. Feudalism, we were taught to infer, 
was finished. Not all the facts cited in support of this theory are 
strictly accurate but there is probably something in the theory. What 
is less frequently remarked is the way in which the whole tendency 
has now been reversed. The great period of democracy in Europe was 
in fact the period of massed infantry, with God tending to favour the 
big battalions. The War of 1870 was mainly fought with rifle and 
bayonet and the First World War was not dissimilar in that respect 
until its close. Since 1917 the infantry mass, the conscript army, has 
given place to the armoured column and the defended locality. So 
far as the social implications of war are concerned, the conditions 
to-day are more nearly medieval. The armoured knight is in the field 
again with his team of assistants. It is true that it takes the efforts 
of an entire community to maintain him there, but this was equally true 
in the Middle Ages, when the Feudal system was in fact the organiza- 
tion through which this was done. It may be thought premature to 
forecast what the political results of this change may be. We can at 
least note, however, that conscript armies and massed voting went 
out of fashion at about the same time. 

Just as the new techniques of industry weaken the general position 


of the workers in the productive process as a whole, so do the new 
techniques of warfare weaken the potential position of the workers in 
a revolutionary crisis. Street barricades and pikestaffs, even plus 
muskets, are not enough against tanks and bombers.' 

Parallel with changes in the art of war have been the technical 
changes in the art of peace. Some of these have been summarised in a 
study made of the Managerial Revolution by James Burnham, from 
which the above passage is quoted. He points out that the social 
position of the working class has deteriorated sharply of recent years. 
The skilled worker has been largely superseded by the classes above 
and below him; that is, by the experts in engineering and production 
planning (who are highly specialised and elaborately trained) and by 
the packers and sorters and fasteners (who are hardly trained at all). 
Skilled workers of the old trade-union type are at once less important 
and less numerous. They could not, by themselves, run the motor- 
car factory. It is doubtful whether they could produce a single car. 
They no more ask a share in the management than do the share- 
holders. In so far as democratic Parliaments have represented capital 
and labour, Burnham accounts for their decline in usefulness by ex- 
plaining that neither capital nor labour is now as important as 
management and that managers and experts do not work through 
parliament at all. The decisions that matter are taken in the United 
States by bodies like the T.V.A. and in Russia by the Four Year Plan 
Commission. Parliaments have not been abolished so much as quietly 
by-passed by people whose time is too valuable to waste in that sort 
of debate.'^ These technological changes are fairly consistent with 
dictatorship of the right kind. They are not at all consistent with 
rhetoric about self-evident truths or the sacred mission of the 
proletariat. The time for politics, in that sense, has passed. 

Comparable in importance to the production expert is the psy- 
chologist. Critics of the positive achievements of psychology have 
often failed to notice its negative eflfects. It was relatively easy for a 
politician of the mid-nineteenth-century — the Marxist period, as we 
may call it — to count the votes and announce the Will of the People. 
It seemed relatively easy in Victorian England to discover whether 
the voters wanted Disraeli or Gladstone. But the whole democratic 
theory has been undermined by the psychologist with a process which 
began to attract public attention in about 1920.'^ It may have begun 
with intelligent people looking back upon the part they and others 
had played in the war mania of 1914-18. It took the form of a serious 

' The Managerial Revolution. James Burnham. London, 1942. p. 50. 

- See Burnham. op. cit. p. 138. 

^ See The group mind. W. McDougall. Cambridge, 1920. Instinct and the unconscious. 
W. H. R. Rivers. Cambridge, 1920. Instincts of the herd in peace and war. W. Trotter. 
London, 1920 and Decline of the West. O. Spengler. New York, 1926. 


attempt to determine why people think, vote and react as they do. 
The results could not be otherwise than profoundly disturbing to a 
believer in democracy. For one thing, it appeared that the views of a 
person as an individual are often quite different from his or her views 
as one of a crowd. Freud and McDougall pointed this out and even 
tried to decide between the merits of the two opinions the same 
individual might express. Such an inquiry has its interest but is not 
our present concern. The important fact, politically, is that the 
difference exists.^ Research also reveals that 

... in a group of three, one person who knows his mind will obtain a 
majority vote in three times out of four provided that the other two 
members vote at random. About the same degree of control can be 
exercised by a bloc vote of 3 over an indifferent population of 20.- 

It is true that the word 'indifferent' limits the influence of the few 
to matters on which the majority have no decided views. But other 
investigations show that the views fervently held by the majority are 
susceptible to mental disturbances, mass hypnotism and panic. 
Research by mass observation showed that the British public com- 
pletely reversed its opinion about conscription during ten days in 
1939. Between the 21st and 26th April, fifty-three per cent of those 
questioned thought that voluntary recruitment was preferable, 
thirty-nine per cent wanted compulsion, eight per cent expressed no 
opinion. Conscription was approved in the House of Commons on 
27th April. Between the 2nd and 5th May it was found that, of those 
questioned, fifty-eight per cent were in favour of conscription, 
thirty-eight per cent opposed to it and four per cent were still at a 
loss. Nothing had happened in the meanwhile to justify this sudden 
change of attitude. Some fifteen per cent of the people had changed 
their minds and four per cent previously without an opinion found 
that they had acquired one.^ Doris Langley Moore concludes that 'As 
a matter of deplorable truth, multitudes of people do not know what 
they want. . . .' In the light of this sort of evidence, talk about the Will 
of the People loses much of its force. The trained investigator is apt 
to ask what sort of will is to be considered sacred— the views of 
individuals, the views of the same individuals when herded together, 
the views of the herd on Tuesday or the views of the herd on Sunday 
afternoon? The suspicion is bound to dawn that the minority of 
people who reply 'Don't know' are merely more honest than the rest. 

Contemporary with the advance of psychology (and closely 
connected with it) was the development of commercial advertising. 

1 On the objective study of crowd behaviour. L. S. Penrose. London, 1952. pp. 2-5. 
" Ibid. p. 6. 

' The Vulgar Heart: An Enquiry into the Sentimental Tendencies of Public Opinion. 
D. L. Moore. London, 1945. See pp. 54-55. 


It became daily more apparent, between the two World Wars, that 
goods do not, of necessity, sell on their merits but through a process 
of almost hypnotic suggestion. This has always been partly true but 
it remained for the modern expert to make the process of suggestion 
a science. Sales were found to depend upon an adroit combination of 
colour, form, visual suggestion and the written word. Cunning 
appeals were directed to the basic instincts of hunger, thirst, fear and 
sex. Results were plotted and graphs were drawn, the more cynical 
finally concluding that the usefulness (if any) of the thing to be sold 
was irrelevant to the success of the campaign. Experience in advertis- 
ing went further to undermine the liberal idea of democracy. For if 
the people could be coaxed into buying the worse — and even the more 
expensive — of two rival products, it was manifest that they could be 
coaxed by the same means into voting for the worse of two rival 
candidates for office. It was also increasingly evident that the man 
already in office — and more especially the dictator — could use the 
considerable resources of government (schools, newspapers, posters, 
leaflets, films and radio) to retain the confidence which he possibly 
deserved to forfeit. Examples multiplied of this being done. 

Faced with this evidence, the democrat will maintain that the real 
will of the people can be ascertained and that the common sense of 
the electorate will assert itself in the end. But the deathblow to this 
theory comes from the accounts received of witch-hunts and treason 
trials. We are by now familiar with the spectacle of accused persons 
entering the witness box in totalitarian courts and calmly confessing 
to the treason which will ensure their condemnation. We are told 
that such confessions are extorted by fear, as would indeed seem most 
probable. What is significant, however, is that the psychological 
treatment used has actually, in many instances, convinced the 
victim of his own guilt. He will tell a detailed and circumstantial 
story, describing events which never happened and naming accom- 
plices of whom he had never previously heard. Persons accused of 
witchcraft in the seventeenth century seem to have done the same. 
Victims of this sort of treatment are not giving evidence under duress. 
They believe what they are saying. They are instances (in an extreme 
form) of the success attributable to methods of suggestion. But 
milder methods produce results almost as striking. The child enrolled 
in the Hitler Youth ends with a mind so filled with legend as to be 
unreceptive of fact. The American voter is so conditioned by propa- 
ganda about communism that he will refuse to recognise the existence 
of China. The British voter is so conditioned by propaganda about 
Parliament that he thinks the party system is inevitable. The British 
housewife has been so conditioned by advertisement that she will 
buy the worse instead of the better product. At what point in this 


series does suggestion end? At what point does free will begin? There 
is no possible answer. The study of the art of suggestion has made 
nonsense of democratic theory. It has also provided the dictator with 
a technique, not of oppression but of gaining a continued and willing 
assent to his rule. 

So far we have been considering the theory of dictatorship and the 
means by which twentieth century dictatorship has been sustained. 
It might well be asked what this has to do with dictatorship in decay. 
The answer is that its merits and defects are the same, its success and 
decay simultaneous. The dictator rules, as we have seen, by virtue of 
his inspiration, by virtue of his artistry and by virtue of his ability to 
make firm and rapid decisions. He rules in this century, moreover, 
in a world unsuitable for democracy and at least technically favour- 
able for dictatorship. But dictatorship soon becomes decadent. That 
feeling of inspired genius by which the dictator is at first sustained, and 
for which he is admired, makes him impatient of contradiction. He 
will have no one near him of comparable ability. He demands 
obedience and resents opposition. How must he regard those who 
criticise the plans of the destined leader? They are stupid. Worse, 
they are disloyal. As Hitler himself observed: 

. . . the majority can never replace the man. The majority represents 
not only ignorance but also cowardice. And just as a hundred block- 
heads do not equal one man of wisdom, so a hundred poltroons are 
incapable of any political line of action that requires moral strength 
and fortitude.^ 

So a dictator will tend to surround himself with men less able than 
himself — with men beside whom he cannot be made to look small — 
with men unlikely to have views of their own. He wants obedience, 
help, sympathy and admiration. He does not want to be told that his 
facts are wrong or his policy mistaken. 

As an artist he is even less patient of criticism. The whole point in 
appointing one supreme planner is to ensure the unified conception 
of the plan. But what will become of the central theme if there are to 
be niggling amendments by ignorant busybodies — by people too 
small to appreciate the grand outline of the master plan? The sense 
of purpose will be lost. Sweeping lines and generalisations will 
become blurred and indistinct. Rules will be loaded with exceptions. 
Better to ignore all paltry objections and keep the main object in 
view! The same reasoning applies to the leader's swift and final 
ruling. This becomes far more difficult if advisers are going to talk 
over every issue. It becomes a question indeed whether the adviser 
who emphasises imaginary obstacles can be whole-heartedly behind 
the national effort. Is it not more probable that he wishes that eff'ort 

' Hitler, op. dt. p. 81. 


to fail? Has he not, for that matter, been bribed by the other side? 
What is needed is, first and foremost, loyalty. So the leader must be 
surrounded by the loyal, the steadfast, the reliable; not men who 
make difficulties but those who suggest expedients. To put the case 
more briefly, only the second-rate are wanted, and those only while 
they remain consistently acquiescent. If brilliance is wanted at all, 
it will be on the advertising side, in explaining the orthodox view to 
the people, or perhaps to other countries. 

The dictator who assumes responsibility for all major decisions, 
surrounding himself with mediocrities so as to be unrivalled and un- 
opposed, must live under an appalling strain. He is as subject as other 
people to illness and overwork. To normal ailments he must add the 
strain of public life and the fear of assassination. To relax for more 
than a short time would be to admit that others can govern as well as 
he — an impossible admission for one who claims to be unique. Even 
if he does not fall sick, he will grow old. As time goes on, inspiration 
will fail. Large scale and long-term plans will have less attraction for 
a man who no longer expects to see them fulfilled. The dictator will 
begin to suspect that his decisions will be reversed as soon as he dies. 
Fatigue sets in and he is no longer able to decide instantly upon a 
policy. He is no longer the man he was. He sees this fact reflected in 
the faces of his staff". Are they (or is this imagination?) exchanging 
significant looks behind his back? Do they dare to think that he, the 
Leader, is losing grip? This is the point at which dictatorship begins 
to suffer from the disease which earlier proved helpful. The legend, 
the myth begins to react on its inventor. No one dare^ to tell the 
Leader what is actually happening. Sober facts he will regard as 
pessimism; and pessimism as disloyalty. So bad news comes to be 
increasingly hidden from him. Worse still, he comes to believe his 
own propaganda. The deceiver of others ends even by deceiving him- 
self. He lives finally in a world of unreality, in a world of his own 
imagining. From then he can be regarded as practically insane. 

The life of Adolf Hitler off'ers, not the only example of this tendency 
but the example of which we have the fullest data. Mein Kanipf is 
the work of a sane man, unbalanced in some of his hatreds but 
realistic in judging what could and could not be done. Sane he re- 
mained for many years, revealing a remarkable flair for politics and 
even for strategy. 'He was a systematic thinker'' says one historian. 
'Never' says another 'was Hitler's ability more clearly shown than 
in the way he recovered from this set-back' [i.e. of 9th November, 
1923]. It was in these words that Hitler addressed the court which 
tried him: — 

The man who is born to be a dictator is not compelled; he wills it. 

' Hitler's Table Talk. 1941-44. Ed. by H. R. Trevor-Roper. London, 1953. p. viii. 


He is not driven forward, but drives himself. There is nothing im- 
modest about this. Is it immodest for a worker to drive himself towards 
heavy labour? Is it presumptuous of a man with the high forehead of a 
thinker to ponder through the nights till he gives the world an in- 
vention? The man who feels called upon to govern a people has no 
right to say: If you want me or summon me, I will co-operate. No, it 
is his duty to step forward.^ 

These are the words of a remarkable man, a man of intellect and 
vision. Nor is the man described by Rauschning in 1932-33 other than 
sane. As the war approached, however, and after it had begun, 
Hitler began to assume heavier and heavier responsibilities, trusting 
nobody. He made himself Minister for War in 1938. In 1941 he 
assumed the command of the army (O.K.H.) in addition to the 
command of the armed forces as a whole (O.K.W.). In January, 1942, 
he could speak of his 'unbounded confidence, confidence in myself, 
so that nothing, whatever it may be, can throw me out of the saddle, 
so that nothing can shake me'.'- That represented the high-water mark 
of his belief in himself and his destiny. Three months later, in March, 
his hair was grey and he had fits of giddiness. He had by then con- 
vinced himself that he had saved the situation by superseding his 
Army High Command. He drew up his plans for victory over Russia 
in 1942. Haider, who warned him of the Russian strength, was 
shouted down.'' Hitler quoted Nietzche and Clausewitz and removed 
the generals who disagreed with him. Goebbels wrote that 'As long 
as he lives and is among us in good health, as long as he can give us 
the strength of his spirit, no evil can touch us'.* Hitler now demanded 
and was given by law still further and more absolute powers. He 
personally directed the drive of 1942 against Stalingrad and towards 
the Caucasus and it is generally recognised that he could have gained 
either objective if he would only have restricted himself to the one. 
It was a major strategic error, made worse by Hitler's refusal to 
believe his own intelligence reports. 

When a statement was read to him which showed that Stalin would 
still be able to muster another one to one and a quarter million men in 
the region north of Stalingrad (besides half a million more in the 
Caucasus), and which proved that the Russian output of first-line tanks 
amounted to twelve hundred a month. Hitler flew at the man who was 
reading with clenched fists and foam in the corners of his mouth, and 
forbade him to read such idiotic twaddle.^ 

By November, 1942, Hitler had sustained a definite and large- 
scale defeat. 

' Hitler, a Study in Tyrannv. Alan Bullock. London, 1952. p. 106. 


' /hid. pp. 616-617. 

' Ibid. p. 617. 

■ Ibid. p. 628. 


In the course of 1943 Hitler, who looked fifteen years older (accord- 
ing to Goering) since the war began, experienced a trembling of his 
left arm and left leg. He was taking drugs constantly and receiving 
daily injections. By the winter of 1944-45 he was meeting all oppo- 
sition or warning with hysterical outbursts of rage. 'He had', says 
Guderian, 'a special picture of the world, and every fact had to be 
fitted into that fancied picture. As he believed, so the world must 
be. . . .'^ By February, 1945, he was a physical wreck, an old man with 
grey skin, shuffling walk, trembling down the left side, totally 
exhausted and yet ready to scream with rage when even momentarily 
opposed. This was the Hitler so well described by Trevor-Roper:- 

So Hitler ordered; but his orders bore no relation now to any 
reality. He was moving imaginary battalions, making academic plans, 
disposing non-existent formations. The Steiner attack was the last, 
most symbolic instance of Hitler's personal strategy; it never took 

This cloud-cuckoo-land operation took its imaginary course in 
April, 1945. Berlin was by then partly in Russian hands. Hitler 
shrieked at Gottlieb Berger 'Everyone has deceived me! no one has 
told me the truth! the armed forces have lied to me!' All this was 
strictly accurate. Night was Falling on the Gods. There was no 
alternative to suicide and Hitler duly shot himself on 30th April. He 
was already senile although only just fifty-six years old. His forces 
surrendered on May 4th and Alan Bullock remarks that 'The Third 
Reich outlasted its founder by just one week'.^ 

This story of rapid decay is, of course, complicated by circum- 
stances unconnected with Hitler's moral and physical collapse. But 
it is tolerably certain that the Third Reich would in any case have 
died with him. We know, however, that Hitler at one time (in 1942) 
visualised having a regular successor, an elected chief with absolute 
authority, chosen by a Senate meeting in secret conclave. 

Although a State founded on such principles can lay no claim to 
eternity, it might last for eight to nine centuries. The thousand-year- 
old organization of the Church is a proof of this — and yet this entire 
organization is founded on nonsense. What I have said should a 
fortiori be true of an organization founded on reason.* 

This suggested period of eight or nine centuries proved to be an 
overestimate. It did not last eight or nine days. Nor, in more favour- 
able circumstances, could it have lasted very much longer. There 
was no possible successor, as Hitler himself had realised: 

' Bullock, op. cit. p. 701. 

= The Last Days of Hitler. H. R. Trevor-Roper. London, 1952. p. 123. 

= Bullock, op. cit. p. 732. 

' Hitler's Table Talk. H. R. Trevor-Roper. London, 1953. p. 389. 


... If anything happens to me Germany will be left without a leader. 
1 have no successor. The first, Hess, is mad; the second, Goering, has 
lost the sympathy of the people, and the third, Himmler, would be 
rejected by the Party. ^ 

The historian, while accepting Hitler's verdict on these three, must 
be more impressed with the fact that they would have been hopeless 
in supreme power even if acceptable to the rest. Goering had run to 
seed. Himmler — 'Faithful Heinrich' — was a stupid, insignificant, 
pedantic ex-Sergeant-Major, naive enough to believe the Nazi 
mythology. Joseph Goebbels, ablest of the Party, was no leader. In 
Albert Speer and Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler had two technicians of 
genius but they never aspired to more than expert knowledge and 
Schacht ended in prison. Ribbentrop, Rosenberg and Robert Ley 
were nonentities, fit members of what Trevor-Roper calls 'a set of 
flatulent clowns'. As for the soldiers, those of any ability were 
eliminated — Haider (too outspoken) being told to commit suicide in 
1944. Those that remained — Keitel, Jodl, Burgdorf and the rest — 
were mainly remarkable for their subservience to Hitler, who rejected 
them all (in his last days) in making Doenitz his successor. The fact 
that Hitler ended with a circle of second-rate sycophants about him 
was, of course, no coincidence but the logical consequence of dictator- 
ship. A Leader who wishes to appear supreme and unrivalled in 
policy, strategy, tactics, finance, architecture, planning and ideas, 
cannot afford to employ assistants who rise above mediocrity, least 
of all as generals. But what success can the forces achieve if all the 
best commanders are systematically murdered or dismissed? Dic- 
tatorship decays by the laws which govern its very nature. It could not 
last for more than a lifetime in any case. In practice it may not last as 
long. The dictator believes in his own genius — how otherwise could 
he have seized power? — so he resents opposition. He believes in his 
own vision of the State — so he will listen to no advice. He believes in 
the need for centralised authority — so he will delegate no power to 
others. The natural results are that he is surrounded by flattering 
nonentities; that he is never told the truth; and that he is driven mad 
by overwork. He is apt to end as a physical wreck, unable even to 
make the decisions which no one else is allowed to make for him. 

' Bullock, op. cit. p. 705. 



THE Collapse of dictatorship owing to the disability, defeat or 
death of the dictator is unlikely to prelude a more than momen- 
tary return to democracy or oligarchy. Much depends, it is true, upon 
the length of time which has elapsed since the dictator first came to 
power. Ordinarily speaking, however, the tendency will be for the 
people to have forgotten how to govern themselves. Democratic 
politicians, often elderly men, may well die off — even in the course 
of nature — during a dictatorship, leaving no one available with any 
experience of power. The dictator's own followers, should they 
survive, will usually turn out to be nonentities. Members of any 
previous aristocracy will have nothing left but vague pretensions and 
hatreds. Even the middle-class may have lost, during previous 
revolutions, any claim to leadership it could ever boast. The dictator's 
fall will leave a vacancy which might seem, at first sight, ready for the 
next dictator to fill. But that solution often proves impracticable, at 
any rate in the first instance. For the previous dictator will normally 
have seen to it that he should have no obvious successor. He will 
have killed all possible rivals. If there is to be another dictatorship it 
will be the result of further bloodshed; for it is only in the course of 
fighting that a new leader is likely to emerge. As against this, the fall 
of the inspired Leader does not always leave the people in the mood 
for war. Of war they have, not infrequently, had enough. 

So the end of a period of dictatorship may often predispose a 
people towards monarchy ; which is indeed, probably, the form of rule 
appropriate for them. Kingship may off"er them stability without 
demanding from them the civic virtues which they simply do not 
possess. Kingship is the natural aftermath to a Caesar, a Cromwell or 
a Napoleon. But much depends upon the circumstances. When there 
is a recent tradition of monarchy, the throne is there to fill. When, 
however, the tradition has been broken, there may be a tendency to 
give royal honours to the dictator's heir. It is this rather odd prefer- 
ence which accounts, in part, for the restoration of Napoleon III and 
even for the brief rule of Richard Cromwell. Bonapartism is thus the 
name given in France to the cult of those who demand the restoration 
of the empire, not in the name of De Gaulle but for the benefit of 
Napoleon's collateral descendants. One would have thought that 



believers in the principle of inspired leadership would have sought to 
instal a soldier (if one could be found) of comparable talent. One 
would have thought that believers in hereditary succession would 
have demanded, as some indeed do, the restoration of the ancient 
kingship. It is an odd confusion of ideas which can favour an 
hereditary line of inspired leaders; although no more odd perhaps 
than the British trust in hereditary champions of egalitarian democ- 
racy. This, however, is the basis of Bonapartism; a term we may use 
to define the attempt made to restore monarchy after a period of 
dictatorship but without reinstating the previous royal house. It 
involves founding an entirely new dynasty. 

The history of China provides us with many good examples of this 
development. Chinese dynasties lasted for about two and a half 
centuries each, on an average, their period of decline representing a 
phase of oligarchy or democracy, half concealed by the observance of 
kingly ritual. The dictators who secured imperial office were of 
varied origin. Liu Chi (or Pang), who became emperor in 202 B.C. 
was a commoner of officer rank. Wu-ti was succeeded by the nephew 
of the late Empress. From the disorder which followed the socialistic 
experiments of Wang Mang there emerged, as supreme, a distant 
cousin of the former Han Emperor. Li, founder of the T'ang dynasty, 
who succeeded after the murder of Yang Kuang, was of a ducal 
family. Chao K'wang-Yin, regent in a.d. 959 and emperor in 960, 
was of similarly respectable origin. Chu Yuanchang, on the other 
hand, who captured Nanking and made himself emperor in 1368, 
was a monk of humble origin. The problem for the Chinese political 
theorist was therefore to find justification for the revolt which brought 
the current dynasty into power. He had to do so, moreover, without 
lending any general sanction to future revolts designed to expel it. 
This problem was solved by teaching that the bad emperor was not 
emperor at all and that the current emperor was a model of the 
virtues which his predecessor had lacked. 

This process is well exemplified in the revolution which established 
Chu Yuanchang as first emperor of the Ming dynasty. Revolt in this 
instance was directed against the Mongols and Chu Yuanchang was 
able to enlist nationalist feelings on his side, expressing his views in 
a manifesto which has survived and which reads: — 

We Chinese have regarded the ruler as the father of the people, the 
court as the center of the nation, and moral principles as principles of 
government. The conduct of the Mongol monarchs violates the 
Chinese sense of morality and cannot be exemplary. The Mongol 
ministers are dictatorial, the Mongol censors arbitrary, and the 
Mongol judges prejudiced. ... It is said that 'no barbarians ever reign 
for a century'. This saying must come true, now that we have 


started a nation-wide revolution to overthrow the Mongol regime.^ 

The revolution succeeded and had the effect of installing as dictator 
one of the most ignorant, suspicious and brutal characters ever 
recorded in Chinese history. Chu Yuanchang followed good dicta- 
torial practice in executing all the ministers and generals who had 
assisted his rise to power. He ruled directly, combining the offices of 
emperor, premier and commander-in-chief. He founded a new 
dynasty, nevertheless, one which lasted until 1644. There followed a 
period of disorder, during which Li Tse-Cheng tried to make himself 
emperor; a period which ended with the establishment of the Ch'ing 
dynasty in about 1659. The Ch'ing or Manchu emperors then held 
sway until 1911, using Chinese terminology to justify an alien rule. 

It sounds very Confucian and Chinese when one reads the Manchu 
proclamation that the 'wheel of tlie world' had turned, the decline of 
one dynasty had made room for another, the Ming had lost the 
heavenly mandate. 'Through heaven's favor and the new emperor's 
blessing' the Manchus had conquered Peking.- 

It is this phrase 'the mandate of heaven' which is of particular 

The doctrine of the mandate of heaven was a feature of Chinese 
political thought from an early period. It was adopted by Tung 
Chung-shu (circa 179-104 B.C.) adviser to the emperor Wu Ti, who 
was first responsible for making Confucian ethics the basis of official 
teaching and the key to public office. The Confucian ideal, none too 
precise in the first instance and afterwards blended with concepts 
derived in fact from other thinkers, could be made an invaluable ally 
of those actually in power. Many Confucian ideas have no immediate 
and practical application but some, as interpreted by Mencius (and 
Tung Chung-shu) could be very usefully emphasised. 'God creates 
the people' said Mencius, 'and appoints for them emperors and 
teachers'.^ 'The Master said: — "The people may be made to follow 
a course, but not to understand the reason why".'* There was no 
nonsense in Confucian theory about equality. People differed from 
each other in position, wealth, age, wisdom and ability. Some were 
fitted to rule and others fit only to obey. But neither was fitness to 
rule a matter of noble descent. How could it be in a land where the 
ruling dynasty had gained power in a revolution which some might 
remember and of which all would have heard? No doctrine will do 

• Men and Ideas. An Informal History of Chinese Political Thought. Lin Moiishcng. 
New York, 1942. p. 131. 

" The Origin of Manchu rule in China. Frontier and Bureaucracy as Interacting Forces 
in the Chinese Empire. Franz Michael. Baltimore, 1942. p. 116. 

' History of Chinese Political Thought during the early Tsin Period. Liang Chi-Chao. 
Trans, by L. T. Chen. London, 1930. p. 50. Liang Chi-Chao was a pupil of K'ang 
Yuwei, last of the Confucians. 

■* Hsiintze, Moulder of Confucianism. H. H. Dubs. London, 1927. 


which fails to show that the last revolution was in accordance with 
the order of Heaven and in response to the wishes of men. The 
previous dynasty must have lost the heavenly mandate. On this point 
Mencius is explicit. 

... 'In order to be a king one must fulfil the functions of a king. 
When a king fails to do that, he loses his claim to be the ruler of the 
people'. On this point the following conversation is illuminating: 
"King Hsuan of Chi asked, 'Is it authentic that Tong put the Emperor 
Chieh in exile, and that King Wu led the expedition against the 
Emperor Chow?' Mencius replied 'It is so recorded in the book'. 
'Is it permissible then for a minister to put to death his sovereign?' 
'One who outrages the virtue 'Jen' is a robber; one who outrages 
propriety is a ruffian. A ruffian or a robber is a mere commoner. I have 
heard that a man named Chow was decapitated ; but I have never heard 
that a sovereign was put to death". '^ 

Political advisers clearly had their anxious moments. They had 
somehow to combine their approval of past revolution with an 
assurance of loyalty in the event of any future revolt. They were like 
early Hanoverian divines preaching the doctrine of divine right — 
those who gained their bishopric had earned it. But the Confucian 
doctrine of Names evades the difficulty rather neatly. The king who is 
not saintly and benevolent is not king at all. He has deposed himself. 
He has virtually abdicated. It was the usefulness of this, among 
other doctrines, which induced Tung Chung-shu to advise Wu Ti to 
adopt Confucianism as the official doctrine. 

Your humble servant proposes that all doctrines that deviate from 
the arts and classics of Confucius be suppressed completely. Once 
subversive and pernicious doctrines are quelled, the unity of the 
Empire may be maintained and laws and rules may be so clearly stated 
that the people will know what to follow.'^ 

Confucianism provides, or can be distorted to provide, a valuable 
support for monarchy. It does not, however, justify a despotic rule. 
For the emperor could retain the mandate of heaven only by display- 
ing, or seeming to display, the virtues which such a mandate would 
seem to imply. The ruler was considerably fettered by the etiquette 
and conventions which surrounded his office. It was no part of the 
accepted legend that the emperor was (as in Japan and elsewhere) a 
descendant of the gods. Instead, it was the convention to assume that 
the emperor owed his position to his superior virtue. The story was 
told of the emperor Yao (2356 B.C.) who offered to abdicate in 

' Liang Chi-Chao. op. cit. p. 62. The virtue 'Jen' is, rougiily speaking, the practice of 
doing for others what you think they should do for you. 

^ Men and Ideas, An Informal History of Chinese Political Tlwiig/it. Lin Mousheng. 
New York, 1942. p. 148. See also In Quest of Civilisation. R. Latham. London, 1946. 
p. 136 et seq. 


favour of the hermit, Hsu Yu. It was held that only saintly kings and 
virtuous officers could guide the people by their character and ex- 
ample. Monarchical government is best but only through the ruler's 
display of benevolence, righteousness, propriety and knowledge. 
Confucius perceived, incidentally, that a useful test of efficiency is 
that of time. He held that a kingdom ruled by an aristocracy would 
be lost within ten generations and one ruled by the many would be 
lost in three. ^ Only virtuous kings could rule indefinitely, governing 
so quietly that the people might not realise that they were governing 
at all. 

The more restrictions and prohibitions are in the Empire, the poorer 
grow the people. The more weapons the people have, the more troubled 
is the state. The more there is cunning and skill, the more startling 
events happen. The more mandates and laws are enacted the more 
there will be thieves and robbers. (Lao Tzu).^ 

The moral pressure brought to bear upon the emperor by a 
widespread reliance upon his virtue must have been considerable. 
There were bad rulers but fewer perhaps than there might have been 
had no conventional virtue been attributed to them. There were 
tyrants but less oppressive perhaps than they would have been if not 
continually reminded of the good example they were supposed to set. 
In at least one important respect, moreover, the conventional virtue 
coincided with the most everyday prudence. For the good king had to 
listen to the remonstrances of his ministers and the complaints of his 
people. 'If an emperor has seven outspoken ministers' said Confucius, 
'he cannot lose his empire'. As for public relations, 'to gag the voice 
of the people is more dangerous than to dam the flow of a river. . . . 
The wise ruler encourages men to speak out freely'.^ More than that, 
the system of censorship and the appointment of official chroniclers 
used to provide the ruler with official critics, some to remonstrate 
and some to record his faults. 

. . . while Chinese government in form lends itself to despotism, it is so 
surrounded by theories of virtue and good actions that in practice 
despotism is not only checked but to a great extent actually done 
away with. The teachings of the philosophers with their restraining 
influences and the almost universal acceptance of propriety as a basis 
of action have led to a condition where the ruler is constantly re- 
minded of what is right, what is proper, what ought to be done, and 
how one should act.* 

' Chinese Political Thought. E. D. Thomas. London, 1928. p. 154. 

- Ibid. p. 159. For the Chinese detestation of economic restrictions see The Economic 
Principles of Confucius and his school. Chen Huan-Chang. 2 vols. New York, 1911. 
Later Confucians would not even discuss economics. 

^Government and Politics of China. Ch'ien Tuang Sheng. Harvard, 1950. See pp. 

'Thomas, op. cit. p. 184. 


This was hardly compatible with despotism; nor even (one might 
add) with progress. 

The emperor who was thus expected to keep in close touch with 
public opinion and well v/ithin the bounds of established custom, had 
the further general duty of being successful. The mandate of heaven, 
like the Calvinist proof of being one of the elect, implied a visible 
token of divine favour. Military defeat was not normally attributed to 
tactical error but rather to the withdrawal of heaven's mandate. 
After a reverse, the emperor had to examine his conscience, to dis- 
cover how he could have offended heaven. The Chinese had no love of 
lost causes. They were more inclined to join the winning side. There 
was therefore a tendency in public bulletins to pass lightly over the 
less encouraging items of news, bringing into warfare that atmos- 
phere of unreality which was never wholly absent from politics. 
Fictions are useful but not perhaps beyond the point at which fact 
becomes totally obscured. 

The ever-victorious emperor had the further responsibility of 
making the rain fall. The more inconvenient manifestations of nature 
were clearly attributable to his shortcomings. The drought of 1832 
brought the emperor to his knees before a public altar, complaining 
to heaven that no rain had fallen all the summer. The prayer with 
which he memorialised heaven included the following words: 

... I, the minister of Heaven, am placed over mankind, and am 
responsible for keeping the world in order and tranquilising the people. 
Although it is now impossible for me to sleep or eat with composure, 
although I am scorched with grief and tremble with anxiety, still, after 
all, no genial and copious showers have been obtained. . . . Looking 
up, I consider that Heaven's heart is benevolence and love. The sole 
cause is the daily deeper atrocity of my sins; but little sincerity and 
little devotion. Hence 1 have been unable to move Heaven's heart, and 
bring dov/n abundant blessings. . . . 

... I feel impelled, by ten thousand considerations, to . . . assail 
Heaven, examine myself, and consider my errors; looking up and 
hoping that I may obtain pardon. . . . 

Prostrate T beg imperial Heaven [HwangTien] to pardon my ignorance 
and stupidity, and to grant me self-renovation ; for myriads of innocent 
people are involved by me, the One man. My sins are so numerous it is 
difficult to escape from them. Summer is past and autumn arrived; to 
wait longer will really be impossible. Knocking head, I pray imperial 
deliverance — a speedy and divinely beneficial rain, to save the people's 
lives and in some degree redeem my iniquities. Oh, alas! imperial 
Heaven, observe these things. Oh, alas! imperial Heaven, be gracious 
to them. I am inexpressibly grieved, alarmed, and frightened. Rever- 
ently this memorial is presented.^ 

This prayer was, of course, a ritual form of words; not the 

' Thomas, op. cit. p. 160. 


spontaneous petition of a man whose throne is in actual danger. The 
Han dynasty was overthrown by plague but the Manchus were not 
seriously endangered by drought. There is on the other hand much 
that is significant in the self-examination which forms the central 
theme of the memorial. The emperor asks himself whether he has 
neglected to sacrifice, whether he has been proud and extravagant, 
whether he has regularly attended to the affairs of government, 
whether he has been just, whether he has overspent on mausolea and 
gardens, whether he has appointed the right men to office, whether he 
has listened to the appeals of the oppressed, whether there has been 
needless slaughter in war, whether relief has been properly distributed 
and whether revolts have been humanely suppressed? These were 
evidently the sort of sins of which emperors were sometimes accused, 
and the list reveals an acute sense of responsibility, not only to Heaven 
but to the public. 

To the Chinese system of attributing the mandate of Heaven to 
whatever ruler has grasped and retained the supreme power, the 
nearest parallel is to be found in Islam. Muhammad (born c. a.d. 
570) left no definite scheme of government apart from his religious 
teaching and example. Nor did the attempt to provide him with 
successors in office last for more than a few years. He did, however, 
enjoin obedience to rulers. 

. . . Obey your rulers whatever may hap, for if they bid you do any- 
thing different to what 1 have taught you, they shall be rewarded for it 
and you will be rewarded for your obedience. . . .' 

The political theory thus enunciated appears to imply that all earthly 
authority is by divine appointment, the duty of the subjects is to obey, 
whether the ruler is just or unjust. . . . Such a doctrine seems also to be 
implied in the following Tradition in which the Prophet says: 'When 
God wishes good for a people, He sets over them the forbearing and 
wise, and places their goods in the hands of generous rulers; but when 
God wishes evil for a people, He sets over them the witless and 
base. . . } 

In point of fact, the various territories occupied by the followers of 
Islam speedily fell apart, each under a separate ruler, many of these 
rulers eventually aspiring to the title of Sultan. Provided he is a 
Muslim, the ruler of a predominantly Muslim State is entitled to 
obedience, by whatever means he has come to power. He is 'the 
shadow of Allah upon earth'. Islamic law and custom would permit 
a series of non-hereditary rulers. Their power would fall short, how- 
ever, of dictatorship. For the Muslim ruler is subject to Muslim Law, 
which he cannot amend, repeal or even interpret. His duties are 

' The Caliphate. Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Oxford, 1924. See pp. 48-50. Sec also 
Muhammad' A Mercy to all the Nations'. Al-Haji Qassim AM Jairazbhoy. London, 1934. 
p. 239. and The Law of War and Peace in Islam. Majid Khadduri. London, 1940. 


theoretically restricted to judgment, taxation, the Friday worship 
and the Holy War.^ As compared, however, with the Chinese 
monarch, the Muslim ruler was less responsible to the people. Mis- 
fortunes in China might be attributed to the sins of the emperor. 
Similar events among Muslim peoples would be attributed rather to 
the sins of the people themselves. This left them with no religious 
sanction for deposing the ruler. Neither, however, did it restrain 
them from offering obedience to his successor, should the government 
chance to be overturned. 

While Chinese and Islamic custom both used thus to offer a ready 
means of converting a dictator into a regularly appointed and even 
hereditary monarch, the same cannot be said of countries in which the 
idea of kingship has actually died out. We have seen that South 
American Republics have seldom managed to turn dictatorship into 
monarchy. The tradition has not been alive and there has always been 
the definite opposition of those with liberal or republican views. It 
cannot be supposed that the escape from dictatorship in such states 
can ever be easy, and historical examples would seem to suggest that 
it is impossible without foreign intervention and the virtual annexa- 
tion of the territory by another and more efficiently organised power. 
Fortunate, in that case, are the states like Spain and Italy in which 
monarchy might easily revive. Granted, however, that such a revival 
were possible and granted, moreover, that all or most of the dicta- 
torial states of the twentieth century could be transformed somehow 
into monarchies of a more or less stable kind, this would be no final 
solution to the political problem. We have no reason to suppose that 
the monarchies thus restored would prove much more permanent 
than any other form of government. There would seem to be cyclic 
fashions and an inherent law of change. Were we to accept the teach- 
ing of history we should conclude that the political units we now 
describe as nations are likely to repeat the political sequence through 
which most of them have passed. Some, it is true, are too small to 
experience all these changes; and two, perhaps, of a federal pattern, 
may prove too large. For the rest we might be tempted to predict a 
continuance of the treadmill round, ending only with the end of 
civilisation itself; a finish not necessarily very remote. Such a predic- 
tion would, however, be unjustified. For, while the course of history 
may reveal a trend, it does not prove that the trend is inevitable. 
There are instances of a danger being avoided, provided only that the 
danger has been perceived. 

' See Developineni of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory. 
D. B. Macdonald. London, 1903. See also Mohammad Theories of Finance. Nicolas P. 
Aghanides. New York, 1916: An Introduction to the Sociology of Islam. R. Levy. 2 
vols. London, c. 1931 ; Muslim Institutions. Maurice Gaudefroy Demombynes, London, 
1950; and The Legacy of Islam. Ed. by Sir Thomas Arnold. Oxford, 1931. 


IT is no part of the historian's business to deal with the future. In 
so far, therefore, as this book is an academic study, its conclusions 
have already been reached. The story has been told of how monarchy 
arises, to be superseded by aristocracy, which is replaced by democ- 
racy, which ends in dictatorship, which may well be the prelude to 
monarchy again. The sequence is by no means invariable but it can 
be shown, with some plausibility, that the tendency exists. The attempt 
has been made to indicate, in outline, some of the merits and defects 
of each form of rule. Some description has been attempted of the 
works in which political theorists have sought to define, assess, praise 
and decry the various patterns which government has assumed. The 
historian can do no more than that, unless it be to point out that the 
assumption of a finality reached seems to be the illusion common to 
almost every age. But while the historian, as such, can go no further 
than we have gone — and may be thought rash to have gone as far — 
the author of a book may justly shrink from leaving unanswered the 
questions which an intelligent reader must feel bound to ask. He may 
perhaps be forgiven for attempting to answer beforehand the 
questions which might otherwise reach him by post. He may even be 
allowed, in doing so, to express what is merely opinion and quit, for 
the time being, the realms of fact. 

Several questions may have occurred to the reader who can claim 
to be still in the hunt, but the first will certainly be this: 'Which form 
of rule is best?' There must, after all, be something unfinished about a 
book which does no more than define, describe and collate. In this 
instance, the inconclusive finish would be emphasised by the fact that 
no single form of rule has been singled out for commendation. The 
author may seem rather to have concentrated upon the defects which 
cause impermanence, leaving the reader to conclude with the psalmist 
that all is vanity. But that is not the message that the author wishes 
to convey. To the reader's question he must reply, it is true, that he 
sees no great merit in any of the forms of rule he has had to describe. 
They represent phases of human experience from which some wisdom 
may be gained, but no one of them would represent finality even if 
finality were to be reached at all. No one, in fact, represents any 
marked improvement upon any other. They reveal, taken together, 
an almost startling lack of progress. The fact, however, that progress 



SO far has been slight does not mean that progress is impossible; and 
the object of this epilogue is to assert the author's belief that progress 
may yet be made. 

Our starting point is the contrast between the progress made in 
science and the stagnation in political thought since 1900; or indeed 
since 1850. During the last century we have had a series of industrial, 
technical and scientific revolutions affecting the whole of human life. 
During the last fifty years we have had the revolutionary changes 
brought about by the car, the film, the radio, the aircraft and the 
submarine. We have seen startling progress in chemistry, physics, 
biology and medicine. We have heard almost monthly of scientific 
developments ranging from penicillin to jet propulsion, from nuclear 
fission to radar. Life has been technically transformed in twenty 
different ways. During the same period, political progress has been 
nil. Theory has been at a stand-still and practice shows perceptible 
retrogression. No one is more acutely aware of this contrast than the 
modern traveller by air. The organisation of the Air Line is relatively 
efficient, modern, smooth and stream-lined. The aircraft is a technical 
achievement which would have been impossible ten years ago and 
which will certainly be obsolete ten years hence. The crew are highly 
trained technicians handling costly equipment. The passage is, by all 
previous standards, unbelievably swift and safe. But the traveller, on 
landing anywhere, finds himself confronted by a political organization 
which is practically medieval. The passport and visa formalities are 
of a kind which our Victorian ancestors regarded as belonging to a 
remote and barbarous antiquity. The customs shed reminds us at 
once of the gifts formerly lavished by traders on the chiefs of savage 
peoples. The currency regulations date from some period before 
Adam Smith. The fuss about alcohol seems to be based on the ideas 
of the more remote Arab tribes. Books are liable to be confiscated and 
burnt by darkly brooding inquisitors. The forms to be filled in have 
been apparently devised in the nursery by children so backward as 
to be almost imbecile. The contrast, in short, between skilled pilots 
and more or less ilHterate officials is very painful indeed. 

Why have the physical sciences advanced and why has political 
science stood still? Before we attempt to answer that question we 
must remind ourselves that progress and improvement are not iden- 
tical. Confronted by the contrast between the old and the new, 
Mahatma Gandhi came to the conclusion that modern industry is 
itself sinful and that moral progress must involve a return to the 
simplicities. He certainly pointed the way to a method (and perhaps 
the only method) by which democracy could be made to work. His 
views will certainly repay the closest study. It may be doubted, how- 
ever, whether a world-wide return to the simplicities is even possible. 


The simple village life is subject, under primitive conditions, to famine, 
drought, epidemic, flood, storm and pest. Can we now ask the peasant 
to discard the help of the railway, road, pipe-line, electric-cable, 
clinic, dam, injection and spray? With no modern equipment the 
world could not support its present population in comfort — still l^ss 
the population of the future. We could not feed, clothe, maintain or 
even restrict the present numbers without the aid of industry and 
science. While the reversal of the present trend might seem attractive, 
it will be assumed here that it is impracticable. It might well be shown 
that Gandhi's condemnation of western medicine is justified and that 
religious meditation is better than any drug. Even so it would seem 
unlikely that people will now discard all they have been taught to 
value. We must assume, however reluctantly, that scientific progress 
is not to be reversed and that the problem is to discover why there 
has been no comparable progress in politics. 

The solution of this problem depends upon a clear understanding 
of what scientific method is. We cannot help but suspect that the 
methods of science, if applied to political problems, would produce 
the sort of progress that we have observed in physics. What methods 
are these which produce such remarkable results? Basic, we suppose, 
to all scientific method is the desire to find out. Real progress begins 
at the point at which the scientist admits his ignorance. And this 
point, as a matter of historic fact, comes fairly late in the history of 
science. The main handicap of the medieval scientist lay not in his 
ignorance but in the fact that he knew it all already. He had read 
Aristotle and St. Augustine, Hippocrates and Galen. He was primed 
with the eternal principles of his art, approved by his Faculty and 
memorised by his pupils. No real progress was possible until they had 
been stuffed in the waste paper basket. What were these dogma ? 

Physicians believed, following Hippocrates, that everything is 
founded on a united confluence of all the humours. They considered 
that phlebotomy or blood-letting is useful but only if governed by 
the movements of the stars. They knew that a drink made from 
mistletoe will at once make women fertile and prevent poisoning. 
They were impressed with the obvious danger of eating pork un- 
accompanied by wine. To avoid catching the plague the correct 
thing — as is well known — is to purge oneself with pills of aloes. As 
for syphilis (when it appeared in the later middle ages) there could be 
no doubt that it was due to a corruption of the air. When in doubt, 
medieval or sixteenth century physicians might turn to specialists 
in zoology, chemistry and astrology. Nor would they turn in vain. 
Experts were at hand to assure them that the unicorn or monoceros 
is guilty of excessive pride, that the salamander lives in fire and that 
parrots are taught to speak by being beaten with an iron rod (for 


they feel nothing else). Other experts were eager to affirm that cinni- 
bar, well known to pharmacists, is formed from the blood of the 
dragon and elephant, mingled in their mortal combat. The quintes- 
sence of the elements, they would remark, is full of the virtues 
celestial. Others were fully aware of the doubled or trebled dangers 
resulting from the conjunction of the dragon's tail with the evil 

Roger Bacon was perhaps the first European to point out — 
following his Arabic teachers — that these and similar axioms were an 
obstacle to progress. 

... If I had my way I should burn all the books of Aristotle, for the 
study of them can only lead to a loss of time, produce error, and 
increase ignorance. . . .^ 

Some centuries were to pass before Roger Bacon's advice was even 
approximately followed. But it can be asserted with some confidence 
that progress began when the scientists ceased to look at books and 
began to look at things. Their first task, and the start of all that was 
to follow, was to make a bonfire of all that had been written. Once 
they had done that, scrapped all they knew and admitted their 
complete ignorance, they were able to go straight ahead, assembling 
facts and checking them by experiment. Facts henceforth were to 
come first and eternal principles were to come (if at all) long after- 

In the field of politics we have not yet reached the point at which 
scientific progress began. We are still (literally) at the stage of reading 
Aristotle. What is worse, we are still telling each other the eternal 
principles of political theory. One theorist will say 'The history of all 
known society . . . has been the history of class struggles'. Another 
will reply as firmly that representative government is 'the ideal type 
of the most perfect polity'. A third will cry that the general will is 
always right, and a fourth will assert that the dictatorship of the 
proletariat is bound to come. A fifth will intone his conviction that 
all men are born equal, only to be shouted down by a sixth who will 
have it that men are everywhere in chains. Government, we are 
assured by a seventh, is instituted to secure for men their right to life, 
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At all times, shouts the eighth, 
the principles of democracy have brought people to ruin. The place 
of the hero, growls the ninth, is with the stars of heaven. As soon as 
the people are brought to silence, concludes the tenth (hopefully) 
their voice is most distinctly heard. In the course of this book we have 
had occasions to notice a score of these eternal principles, founded 
for the most part on nothing. They are valuable to the historian as 

> See The Legacy of the Middle Ages. Ed. C. G. Cramp and E. F. Jacob. Oxford, 
1932. p. 270. 


illustrations of popular or unpopular emotion. They may be valuable 
to the politician as a fund of slogans upon which to draw in a time of 
mental blackout. To the constructive political thinker they are mere 
claptrap; rubbish to be removed from the site before the building 
can begin. They are all, and without exception, drivel. 

If the first stage in scientific thought (the stage we have not even 
reached) is to rid ourselves of all the eternal verities, the second stage 
is to learn how to progress step by step, and only one step at a time. 
The reader who has restrained his impatience until now may feel 
tempted to repeat his question. 'Well, at the end of it all, what form 
of rule is best?' To that the student of politics must reply 'Howshould 
I know? My researches have scarcely begun. Nor do I understand 
your question — what do you mean by "best"; and "best", anyway, 
for whom?' To try to answer that sort of question is to assume that 
we are somewhere near the top of the ladder, whereas we are scarcely 
on the bottom rung. Your true scientist is content with one step at a 
time. He does not claim to produce a medicine which will cure every 
known disease. He tries instead to isolate and identify a single 
bacillus which may (or may not) be associated, in a majority of cases, 
with the symptoms of one particular illness. Or he may be intent on 
investigating a problem of fatigue in a certain metal when used in a 
certain way. In just the same manner a student of politics will try to 
establish some facts before proclaiming his discovery of universally 
applicable rules of nature. Of the facts needed scarcely a fraction have 
been ascertained. And if past experience is any guide, the facts are 
needed before the theory, if only to prevent the theory from distorting 
the facts. 

What facts do we need? We need first to assemble and collate the 
political experience embodied in history. This experience includes the 
relative success of different forms of rule among different peoples, 
on different continents, in different circumstances and in different 
centuries. It will be obvious, in collecting this information, that 
the problems of ruling China and the problems of ruling Cocos 
Keeling Island are not identical. It will also be obvious that 
many questions can never be answered. Jeremy Bentham judged 
governments by his yardstick of the greatest happiness of the 
greatest number. Were we to do the same, we should have no means 
of discovering whether people of past centuries were happy or not. 
Were the Egyptians happy under Rameses II? Were the Chinese 
happy under Wu Ti? We cannot tell and will waste our time if we 
seek to discover. If we cannot measure happiness among people still 
living; still less can we measure the happiness of people who lived 
and died centuries ago. Governments of a remote period may be 
judged a little on their material achievement and a little by the arts. 


Often, however, we know little more about them than their period 
of survival. That fact, if known for certain, is seldom, however, 
without significance. The virtue of stability is at least measurable, 
which so many other criteria are not. Of governments more recent 
we know far more and of those still in existence we know more 
again — except, indeed, about their capacity for survival. 

Next we need to know something about political theories of the 
past. We have found that these theories are usually a more or less 
faithful reflection of current practice. We have also found that the 
theories are mostly, to a scientific thinker, unhelpful. Theories based 
on Divine Right, Original Contract, the Rights of Man and Human 
Equality are likely to seem invalid or meaningless. We must dismiss 
at the outset the idea that a perfect form of rule can be discovered, 
set up and maintained for ever. The whole concept is pre-Darwinian. 
Nothing human is likely to be perfect, and if it were (here and to-day) 
it would no longer be perfect a century hence nor perfect now in 
another place. It is in that sense that Karl Marx is still ahead of some 
other thinkers. He had at least an idea that things evolve. Nowadays, 
while fully alive to the laws of change, we lack his Victorian certainty 
that change is for the better. We are even familiar, as patrons of the 
cinema, with the change that leads us back to the starting point. But 
while we may cheerfully discard most of the old theories, we might do 
well to trace among them the growth of one important idea; the idea 
that government is to be judged by results. To the semi-theological 
theorist who says that good government is of the people, by the 
people and for the people there have always been a few, here and 
there, ready to retort that good government is that which governs well. 

Such a one was Benedict Spinoza (1634-1677) whose training 
(significantly) had been not in theology but in optics. In his un- 
finished political treatise^ he expresses no definite conclusion about 
the forms of rule. He applies, instead, this test of excellence: 'that 
dominion is the best where men pass their lives in unity and the laws 
are kept unbroken'. That is the beginnings of a scientific approach, 
and one worthy of a contemporary of Descartes. There is some faint 
echo of this idea in the text of Hobbes' Leviathan (See p. 84 above). 
Descartes, in his Discourse on Method pointed the way to a science of 
experiment and deplored 'the speculative philosophy taught in the 
schools'. In politics it is just such philosophy that is still being taught; 
a teaching in which Spinoza detected the fallacy nearly three hundred 
years ago. The truth seen by Spinoza had been at least glimpsed, as 
we have noted, by Confucius, who applied to governments the test 
of duration. It was seen again, and more clearly, by Rousseau. He 

' Writings in political pliilosophy. Benedict de Spinoza. Ed. A. G. A. Balz. New York, 


refused to decide upon the relative merits of the different forms of 
rule. He maintained, however, that one can decide, as a question of 
fact, whether a given people is well or badly governed; a question 
never settled 'because every one wishes to decide it in his own way'. 
Let us repeat what he says once more: 

. . . What is the object of political association? it is the preservation 
and prosperity of its members. And what is the surest sign that they 
are preserved and prosperous? It is their number and population. Do 
not, then, go and seek elsewhere for this sign so much discussed. All 
other things b^ing equal, the government under which, without 
external aids, without naturalization, and without colonies, the 
citizens increase and multiply most, is infallibly the best. That under 
which a people diminishes and decays is the worst. Statisticians, it is 
now your business; reckon, measure, compare.^ 

These words deserve to be remembered when the Social Contract 
has ceased to be read. Among the pages of nonsense that have passed 
so far as political philosophy we can discern, here and there, the first 
faint glimmerings of scientific thought. 

All this runs counter to the main current of British and American 
sentiment. To many of these the test of good government is not con- 
cerned with unity or duration, nor with the laws being kept nor with 
the increase of population but simply with the question of what is or 
is not democratic. There have thus in the past been patriots who have 
cried 'My country, right or wrong!' There have been authors eager to 
proclaim that the will of the people is sacred. It is not, they say, the 
duty of government to make the wisest decision; government must 
do what the people wish, if it be urged that the majority may be 
wrong, they reply that it is through making mistakes that people 
learn. It may be doubted, however, for two reasons, whether this 
point of view is any longer tenable, in the first place we have seen that 
the will of the people in the modern world is the synthetic result of 
mass-suggestion; created by schools, press, films and radio, in the 
second place, there are some suicidal mistakes that can only be made 
once. A people cannot, save through ignorance, will their own 
destruction by famine, disease or war. There can be nothing particu- 
larly sacred about ignorance. And yet it is easy for intelligent and 
energetic people to destroy the fertility of the soil upon which they 
live. It has been done repeatedly. It is easy for a people to oppose, on 
religious grounds, the sanitary measures which alone can save them 
from the most fatal epidemics, it is happening daily. It is easy for a 
people to neglect their armed forces, quarrel with every possible ally 
and declare war upon a stronger power, thereafter suflfering complete 
disaster and obliteration. It may happen at any time. No such process 

' Social Contract. J. J. Rousseau. Chap. IX. Book \\\. 


can be justified, surely, by any statistics of how the majority voted at 
recent elections. We know, without any such research, that they can- 
not have wanted what actually happened to them. The final test is 
that of survival. The path which leads to destruction may be demo- 
cratic but it cannot, in any useful sense, be right. 

Having learnt something of history and something of past political 
theory, the students of politics must next turn for their facts to the 
allied fields of knowledge. We must learn from the anthropologist 
that human beings have some deep instincts which we cannot ignore. 
We must learn from the psychologist that man is less rational than 
some thinkers have chosen to assume. Democracy must be studied in 
terms of crowd-psychology, dictatorship in terms of megalomania. 
We must learn from the expert in social medicine, who may 
tell us at what age the human being reaches his peak of efficiency 
and at what age he should retire. We must learn from the 
social investigator the extent to which ability is inherited and 
the extent to which it is acquired. What other qualities are 
heritable, and how? From what sort of background does genius 
usually derive? We must learn from experts in mass observation, who 
can tell us what public opinion really means. We must learn from 
advertising agents, who know the extent to which people can be 
influenced and by what means and at what cost. We must learn from 
physiologists, who will tell us in what ways the decisions of a com- 
mittee may be affected by such factors as the hour, the temperature 
and the ventilation. We must learn from physicians who have studied 
the whole question of human fatigue. We must learn from a score of 
specialists before we venture to attempt the solution of a single minor 
problem. By the standards of modern scientific method the amount of 
work devoted by Tom Paine to the whole field of politics would not 
suflfice to decide the optimum number for a standing committee's 

Our next source of information concerns the states existing at the 
present day. We must study their vital statistics; the increase of 
population, the size of family, the tendency to emigrate, the tendency 
to commit suicide. We must collect and study all data relating to 
health; the statistics of height, weight, sickness and insanity. We 
must assemble the results of intelligence tests. We must discover the 
number of road accidents in proportion to the number of vehicles. 
Then we shall need facts and figures about crime, hooliganism and 
juvenile delinquency. When all that information has been collected, 
we can begin to approach the more difficult problems. First of these 
might be the question of the economy of effort. How many public 
servants are employed to administer a certain city at a given period: 
how many clerks, how many police, how many firemen, how many 


dustmen — all representing what total of expenditure? We must then 
measure the time it takes, under a certain regime, to arrest and execute 
a murderer; to pass an Act of the Legislature; to finish a Public 
Inquiry; to pass the plans for a building; to announce the results of 
an election; and to receive an intelligent reply from a government 
department on any subject. The next stage might be to estimate the 
public spirit shown by those living under the given regime. How many 
of them do ambulance work, how many serve as auxiliary police, 
how many belong to charitable organisations? We might go on to 
inquire into standards of punctuality as affecting railways, aircraft, 
'buses and public meetings. These are only a few of the headings 
under which we might group all the factors which together represent 

But efficiency, the reader may object, is not all. That is true 
enough. The social scientist must move, however, step by step. To 
measure the efficiency of different states does not show us which 
political system is best. The results are merely a few facts to be con- 
sidered alongside many other facts still to be ascertained. Nor would 
the conclusions reached necessarily concern the exact form of rule. 
It might well prove more possible to discover, in the first instance, 
what size of state is to be preferred; or, rather, perhaps, what size of 
state tends to produce the highest level of efficiency. It would seem 
probable that an optimum could be found and even a rough idea 
gained of the decline in efficiency observable after population exceeds 
a certain total. 

The danger, of course, in this sort of measurement is that it applies 
only to what is easily measurable. One may picture (one may even 
know) a well-proportioned community of healthy and contented 
people, clean, hygienic, sensible and prosperous (if possibly a trifle 
smug), producing nothing except another generation of similar 
people, equally contented, healthy, clean and prosperous (and per- 
haps a shade more smug than their parents). This picture of pointless 
repetition should compel us, from the start, to pursue other lines of 
investigation. In what sort of state and in what circumstances have 
people produced the noblest achievements in art,, architecture, 
sculpture, literature and music? Which peoples have been most 
appreciative of the arts? Among what sort of peoples do we find the 
greatest scientists, explorers, physicians, inventors and mountain- 
climbers? We might discover that disorderly, criminal and diseased 
people produce great works of art, and that healthy, smug, law- 
abiding people produce nothing. We are not compelled, however, to 
decide which is preferable until we know that the contrast exists. 
Healthy children and good orchestral music may, after all, prove 


Even when all the facts from past history and present experience 
have been assembled and compared, the political scientist can base 
upon them only the most tentative conclusions. For theories, even 
when based upon facts, have still to be tested by experiment. In 
countries organised on federal lines nothing could be simpler than 
to nationalise the health service in one State or District and measure 
the results (in health and cost) in comparison with the States still 
unreformed. Would mines produce more if co-operatively owned by 
the miners? The fact can be ascertained only by experiment. Ought 
there to be secret voting in the legislature? Should half the members 
of the Cabinet be women? Ought we to compel ministers to retire at 
the age of fifty — or eighty? These are not subjects for discussion but 
for experiment and observation. 

The difficulty in solving these problems by the scientific method is 
that people in general, and politicians in particular, are little influ- 
enced by scientific thought. They demand, instead, religion, inspira- 
tion, poetry, clamour, strife and hatred. People who want colour, 
drama, action and conflict will never be satisfied with the cold facts 
of dispassionate investigation. And this suggests the need for research 
in another direction — the study of how to satisfy the political de- 
mands of ordinary people while simultaneously providing for their 
actual needs. There are, beyond question, people well qualified to 
investigate such problems as these. It may, however, be doubted 
whether any western democracy is so constituted as to be capable 
either of experiment or of self-reform. For progress in the science or 
art of politics we should look perhaps, first and foremost, to India; 
and eventually to China. It is hardly probable that the subtle brains 
of China will for very long be satisfied with the crude doctrines of 
Karl Marx. In any case, a reaction is due against the present tendency 
to make all political dispute a matter of economics; and people may 
yet turn with relief to a programme of purely political reform. 
Mounting and obvious dangers — especially of population increase 
and famine — not to mention war — may compel peoples to resort to 
scientific method in the end. 

When, if ever, research leads to definite conclusions; when, if ever. 
States prove sufficiently enlightened to accept advice based on patient 
investigation rather than on crude emotion and selfish interest, 
mankind may break away from the treadmill which seems to lead 
from kingship to democracy, from democracy to kingship. There 
would seem to be no fundamental reason why there should not be as 
fresh a departure in politics as there has been in physics — provided 
always that we can take the first essential step of discarding all that 
we think we know. That step, if taken in Russia, would mean 
relegating the works of Karl Marx to the history section of the 


library. It would mean discarding the belief that communism has any 
special sanctity. It would imply that communist theocracy should be 
judged by results not by the criteria contained in holy writ. The same 
step, if taken in the United States, would mean relegating the works 
of Jefferson to the history section of the library. It would mean dis- 
carding the belief that democracy has any special sanctity. It would 
imply that universal suffrage should be judged by results not by the 
criteria contained in holy writ. It cannot be sufficiently emphasised 
that a research hampered from the outset by unproved assumptions 
can lead nowhere. The starting point of any real investigation is not 
the assertion of a passionate (if ill-defined) belief but the frank 
admission of ignorance coupled with a genuine desire to find out. 

This emphatic warning is more especially needed among the be- 
lievers in democracy, who are less conscious than the communists 
of all that they have tended to assume. Theirs is not normally, for 
one thing, the religion of the single sacred volume. They are more 
inclined to base their arguments on a vague knowledge of history. 
'Monarchy and Aristocracy have failed', they say, 'it remains to try 
Democracy'. The more enlightened will then agree to discuss the ways 
and means. But the unproved assumption is still there. For in assert- 
ing that Monarchy and Oligarchy have failed they have omitted to 
explain in what the alleged failure consists. What have these forms of 
rule failed to accomplish? They have failed (we are told) but in 
what ? When that failure comes to be analysed we find ourselves driven 
to the further conclusion that Democracy has also failed. Once that 
is admitted, we can discuss the merits and defects of each system. 
Without that admission, the discussion will lead nowhere. 

In any fair discussion of political theory and practice it will be 
absurd to deny that there is any merit in monarchy or oligarchy. 
There are manifest advantages in both, quite comparable with the 
advantages of democracy. Arithmetical arguments for democracy 
must be balanced against all the biological objections to it. improve- 
ments in the speed of horses have been brought about by careful 
breeding, by the early training of a few thus bred and by the sub- 
sequent care of those few. Many notable men and women have also 
been the result of careful breeding, of early training and subsequent 
guidance. The care which can be given to a few would be physically 
impossible for the many (whether men or horses). One might add 
that the promotion of someone to a position of responsibility at the 
age of twenty has the possible merit of producing, later on, a man 
aged thirty-five with fifteen years' experience; a person conceivably 
more useful than another aged sixty with only ten years' experience. 
This is no final argument for monarchy or aristocracy but it is the sort 
of argument which must at least be considered. 


It would be absurd to predict now what the result would be of a 
vast project of research which has scarcely begun. One might, how- 
ever, be excused for making a guess at what it will not produce. If 
the analogy of the physical sciences can be taken as a guide, we should 
not expect the result of this investigation to be either universal or 
final. The problems of administering areas of different size, shape, 
population and character are too diverse (one would imagine) to 
admit of the same answer being applicable to all. Nor should one 
expect to find an answer which would remain valid for more than 
twenty years. The error of the Utopians has been to imagine a final 
solution to a problem of which the factors are almost bound to 
change. The conclusions reached in the biological sciences (to which 
politics would seem most nearly comparable) seldom have any such 
petrified permanence. Not only do the facts change but other facts 
are brought to light by further study. On the one hand, a further and 
rapid change in the expectation of human life might affect all our 
conclusions concerning the age at which an officer of high rank should 
retire. On the other hand, a new treatise by a brilliant psychologist 
might show that our previous beliefs on that subject had, in any case, 
been completely wrong. When political science takes its place among 
the other sciences its progress should presumably resemble theirs. 

Wrote Thomas Hobbes on this subject: — 

The skill of making and maintaining Commonwealths, consisteth 
in certain Rules, as doth Arithmetique and Geometry; not (as Tennis- 
play) on Practise onely: which Rules, neither poor men have the 
leisure, nor men that have had the leisure, have hitherto had the 
curiosity, or the method to find out.^ 

Hobbes was enough of a scientist to be able to indicate the two 
essentials to progress: curiosity and method. We may hardly suppose 
that the results of further research will reveal rules as precise as those 
of arithmetique or geometry. We may no longer believe that the 
rules, when found, will be as immutable as those mathematical rules 
in which Hobbes believed. But we may still be assured that the 
principles we seek, which we know to be neither universal nor eternal, 
will never be discovered except by scientific means. When found, our 
rules will have only a restricted validity. But without curiosity, 
without method, they will never be found at all. 

' Hobbes. op. cit. p. 110. 


Abaidat, 42 

Abbasids, 133 

Abbott, F. F., Roman Political Institutions, 105 

Abel, 24, 43 

Abelard, Peter, 148 

Aborigines, 10 

Abraham, 43 

Abu Bakr, Khalifa, 131 

Abyssinia, Italian invasion of, 249 

Action Fniticiiise, 243 

Adam, 85, 112 

Adams, John, President of U.S.A., 191, 208 

Aditya, 64 

Adolphus, Gustavus, 72 

Adrian IV, Pope, 74 

Advertising, technique of, 291 

Africa: herdsmen of, 25; early Kings of, 

34; Hadrian in, 125 
Agathon, 173 
Agriculturalists: first, 21 ; earliest in Egypt, 28, 

38, 53; early Agriculturalists, 39, 40; 

Biblical, 43; choosing rulers among, 49 
Akbar, Mogul Emperor, 1 36; moral regulations 

enforced by, 137 
Alberdi, South American political thinker, 259 
Alcibiades, 174 
Alexander II, of Russia, 216 
Alighieri, Dante, De Monorchia, 76, 77 
Allah, God of Islam, 128 
Allen, J. W., A History of Political Thought in 

the Sixteenth Century, 82 
Alps, as boundary of Roman Empire, 102 
Altekar, A. S., State and Government in Ancient 

India, 169 
America: political thinking in. 7; books on 

political thinking in, 8, 9, 11; Declaration 

of Independence, 18; early political societies, 

24; political ideas current in, 117; Puritan 

influence in, 166 
Amorites, 46 

Amphipolis, Athenian defeat at 178 
Analects, 56 
Anarchists, 242 
Anarchy, defined, 12 
Andamanese, 20 
Andes, Incas in, 37 
Anglo-Saxon Folk Moot, 168 
Animism, defined, as basic instinct, 18 
Ankole, of Uganda, 24, 34 
Antef, of Thebes, 241 
Antioch, 93 
Aquinas, St. Thomas, Selected Political 

Vi^rilings, 75, 76 
Arab intellectual achievements, 134 
Arabia: early civilization of, 14; early peoples 

of, 39, 42; early wars of, 46; horses of, 48, 

49, 93, 95 
Archon, Athenian office of, 171 
Areopogus, Council of, 171 

Argentine, British investment in the, 257 

Aristocracy: definition of, 12; early, in India 
and Malaya, 61 ; John Bodin on theory of, 
83; relation to feudalism, 101; defined, 102; 
power of, 102; problems of, 103; at Rome, 
103-106; Chinese, 106; English, 107-108, 
109-119, 170, 224; Venetian, III; John 
Locke on, 112, 113; Hooker on, 113; Burke 
on, 119, 120; and theocracy, 121; Greek, 172 

Aristotle. 7; historian of political thought, 7; 
Politics, 40, 45; pastoral people described by, 
45; and St. Thomas Aquinas, 75; and 
Filmer, 86; on sequence in forms of rule, 
111-113; views on democracy, 180 

Arnold, Sir Thomas: The Legacy of Islam, 130; 
The Caliphate, 303 

Ascalon, 93 

Asia: early days of, 25; early herdsmen of, 39, 
41 ; early warriors of, 46 

Asoka, Indian Emperor, 122, 123, 124 

Assyria: war chariots of, 46; army of, 47 

Asvaghosa, early Indian thinker, 19 

Athava Veda, 64 

Athenian League, 173-175 

Athenians, 13 

Athens: ancient, 10, 39; history of, 162, 171; 
democratic constitution of, 172 et seq. 

Altai, 46 

Attica, 102 

Attlee, Mr. Clement, 248, 249 

Augsburg, 97 

Augustin Trionfo, 76 

.Augustus, Roman Emperor, 34, 77, 124 

Aurangzib, Moghul Emperor, fanatical views 
of, 137-138 

Aurelian, Emperor, 124 

Australia, 10, 21 

Austria, 68, 100 

Autocracy, in Czarist Russia, 156 

Avanti, newspaper, edited by Mussolini, 229 

Avignon, 76 

Babur, Moghul Emperor, official title of, 135 

Babylon: early civilization of, 14; early legal 
codes of, 36; first horses of, 41, 47; early 
wars in, 45, 47; chariots of, 46, 47 

Bacon, Roger, views expressed by, 308 

Bahima, African pastoralists, 24 

Bairu, African agriculturalists, 24 

Bali, 30 

Bantu Kavirondo, political system of, 24 

Barker, Sir Ernest, Greek Political Theory, 169 

Barrett, W. P., The Trial of Jeanne d'Arc, 149 

Basu, P., Indo-Aryan Policy, 33 

Baynes, N. H. and H. (ed.), Byzantium, an 
Introduction to East Roman Civilization, I 28 

Bayreuth, 281 




Beauvais, Bishop of, 149 

Bechstein, Frau, 281 

Bedouins: tribes among, 42; of the Euphrates, 

48; Ruala, customs of, 49 
Beethoven, admired by Mussolini, 271 
Bellarmine, Cardinal, 85 
Belloc, Hilaire views of, 232 et seq., 238, 278; 

Monarchy, A Study of Louis XIV, 72 
Beloff, Max (eJ.), The Federalist, 200 
Bemba, African tribe, 24 
Benares, 121 

Benes, Eduard, Democracy Today and To- 
morrow, 262 

Beni Prasad, Theory of Government in Ancient 
India, 19, 20, 32, 59, 61, 64, 65, 67, 96 

Benjamites (Old Testament), 42 

Bentham, Jeremy, 7, 210; opinion of socialism 
212; influence of, 224 

Bernier, Frangois, his observations on the 
economic state of Moghul India, 139 

Bertrand, Louis, Louis XIV, 70 

Beveridge, H., The Akharnama of Abu-l-Faal, 

Bismarck, Prince, 228 

Blackstock, P. W., The Russian Menace to. 
Europe, 159 

Blanshard, Paul, Communism, Democracy and 
Catholic Power, 163 et seq. 

Boas, Franz, General Anthropology, 21, 24, 25 

Bodin, Jean, .Six Books of the Republic, 82, 83 

Bolivar, Simon. 251 et seq. 

Bolivia, revolts in, 256 

Bologna, disorders at, 265 

Bonaparte. Napoleon, 240, 253 

Bonapartism, 298 

Boniface VIII, Pope, 76 

Border Ballads. 98 

Borneo, aborigines of, 10 

Bosphorus, 125; Emperor Constantine's capital 
on, 125 

Boswell, James, 88 

Bourgeoisie, 154 

Bowie, John, Western Political Thought, 36, 
128, 143 

Box, P. H., Three Master Builders, 265 

Brahmans: position of, 33, 48, 58, 61, 63, 64, 
121-122; in relation to king, 33, 63; in re- 
lation to institution of caste, 58-59; their 
rule of life. 60 

Brandenburg, house of, 89 

Briand, French Prime Minister, 228 

Brihatparasara, 59 

Brissot, views on U.S.A., 207 

Britain, 48 

British, and caste system in India, 59 

British aristocracy, 170 

British democracy, Gandhi's opinion of, 194 

British Empire, 245 

Bryant. Sir Arthur. English Saga. 1840-1940, 226 

Bryce, James (Viscount), Modern Democracies, 

Buddhism: in China, 57, 214; democratic 
customs connected with, 96; temples dedi- 
cated to, 98; theocracy of, 121; Christian 
doctrines compared with, 125; political 
devices associated with, 189 

Buhaddharma Purana, 20 

Bullock, Alan, Hitler, a Study in Tyranny, 294 
et seq. 

Burckhardt, Jacob, The Age of Constantine the 

Great, 124 
Bureaucracy, definition of, 12 
Burke, Edmund, Reflections on the Revolution 

in France, 100; views of, 119 
Burma, Buddhism in, 122 
Burnham, James, The Managerial Revolution, 

Burns, John, 227 
Bushmen, 20 
Byzantium: civilization of, 14; theocracy of, 

124; etiquette of, 128; religion of, 129; 

defence of, 130 

Cain, 24, 43 

Calderon, F. G., Latin .America: its rise and 
progress, 256 

Calendar: in early agricultural life, 29; histori- 
cal importance of, 30 

Calicut, 35 

Caliphate, 132 

Calvin, John, 82; career of, 82; regime at 
Geneva, 139 

Calvinist discipline, 140 

Cambodia, 34 

Cambridge, University of, 80 

Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. VI, 76, 97 

Canaan, 43 

Capitalist society, analysed by Marx, 154 

Caporetto, battle of, 263 

Carlyle, Thomas, 272 et seq. ; Frederick the 
Great, 111, 274; French Revolution, 274; 
Heroes and Hero-Worship, 274; Sartor 
Resartus, 275 ; Past and Present, 111 

Carter, E. W., The American Government, 199 

Cary, M., Geographic Background of Greek 
and Roman History, 102 

Caste, 58, 59: in India, 58; hereditary groups, 
division into, 59; warrior, 61, 64; in France, 
71; amongst Brahmans, 121 

Catherine II of Russia, 86 

Catiline, conspiracy of, 185 

Cato, 103 

Caucasus, 46 

Caudillos, »he, 251 

Celebes, islands of, 30 

Celibacy, in Christian Church, 127 

Ceylon, Buddhism in, 122 

Chamberlain, Houston Stewart, Foundations 
of the Nineteenth Century, 279 

Chandragupta, Emperor, 61, 66, 136 

Chang Yung, 56 

Chapman, Dom John, Saint Benedict and the 
Si.xth Century, 96 

Charlemagne, Emperor, 76. 148 

Charles, King of Naples, 86 

Charles II, of England. 80, 83, 84, 85, 112 

Charles III, of Spain, 86 

Chastellux, on U.S.A., 208 

Cherry, Professor, 28 

Chesterton, G. K., 157, 196 

Chieftains, 24, 25. 26, 29; in early Africa. 24, 
25; amongst primitive groups, 26; strength- 
ened by agricultural development, 29; 
power of, 29, 30, 31. 53, 54, 57, 58 

Ch'ien Tuang Sheng, Government and Politics 
of China, 56, 57, 301 



Childe, Gordon, Social Evolution, 38 

China: political theory in, 8; peoples of, 8, 19, 
31, 33, 51, 56, 60, 106; ancient, 9; Chow 
Ch'in and Sui dynasties, 14, 92; legend of 
Golden Age in, 19, 20; Kingship in, 31; 
funeral customs of, 33; war chariots of, 46; 
stirrup invented in, 48; writing in, 51; Han 
Dynasty, 102; Tsin Dynasty, 125; problem 
of ruling, 166; Buddhism in, 189 

Ch'ing Dynasty, 299 

Chivalry, 49; in medieval Europe, 92; and 
political interest in Middle Ages, 93; politi- 
cal implications of, 94, 95; Burke on value 
of, 100 

Christ, Jesus, lack of interest in politics, 125 

Christian religion: theology of, 19, 40, 124; 
importance of Papacy in, 76; Monasticism 
and, 96; ideals and ethics of, 126, 127; 
egalitarian doctrines of, 192 

Chronicles of Froissart, 98 

Chu Yiianchang, Emperor, 298 

Church of England, 210 

Churchill, Sir Winston, 7, 162, 247, 248; The 
Second World War, 247, 248 

Cicero, 103, 111, 119 

City, developinent of the, 38, 50, 85 

City of God, The (St. Augustine), 143 

City states: in ancient world, 96, 97; Rome, 
102; Venetian and Dutch, 111 

Civil Service, Athenian, 174 

Clan, 39, 40,41, 43, 58 

Clark, G. N., The Seventeenth Century, 80 

Claudius, Emperor, Imperial bureaucracy of, 

Cleisthenes, 168, 172 

Cleon, Athenian politician, 175, 176 

Clodius, Roman politician, 182 

Cobban, Dr. Alfred, Dictatorship, Its History 
and Theory, 269-270 

Colbert, 71 

Colline Gate, massacre at, 184 

Colombia, political problems of, 254 

Commonwealth: term used by Hobbes, 83-84; 
example of, in Poland, 86; in England, 86 

Communism, 85; Filmer on, 85; as religion, 
151; triumph of, in Russia, 158 

Communist Manifesto (1847-48), 152 

Communist Party, Russian, 160 

Confucian doctrines, 300, 301, 310 

Confucian ethics, 299 

Confucius, 98, 121 

Congo, the, 34 

Conrad, Joseph, views of, 216 

Constantine, Emperor, 125, 128 

Constantinople, eastern Empire centred upon, 

Constitution: of U.S.S.R., 159; of U.S.A., 

Constitutions of Europe in I9th century, 215- 

Cook, Captain James, description of South 
Sea Islanders, 200 

Coon, Carleton S., A Reader in General Anthro- 
pology, 42 

Corn Laws, 210 

Crane, Walter, 227 

Creoles of South America, 252 

Croce, Benedetto, views of, 272; My Philo- 
sophy, 284 

Cromwell, Oliver, Carlyle's admiration for, 273 

Crusaders, 48 

Cultivation: of the soil 21; contrast with 
pastoral societies, 24, 39, 40, 41 ; millet and 
barley, conditions suitable for, 28; fences 
necessary for, 29; peaceful character of 
peoples practising, 43, 44 

Cyrene, party strife at, 179 

Czechoslovakia, sacrifice of, 248, 249 

Dalai Lama, 122 

Dante Alighieri, 7, 148; De Monorchia, 76 

Darien, 37 

Darwin, Charles: Journal of Researches. 20; 
Origin of Species, 153 

Daryll Forde, C, Habitat, Economy and 
Society, a Geographical Introduction to 
Ethnology, 40, 44 

Das Kapital (Karl Marx), 151 

David (Old Testament), 36, 47, 50 

Davies, E. T., The Political Ideas of Richard 
Hooker, 113 

Death Duties, effect of, 171 

De Burgh, W. C, Legacy of the Ancient 
World, 125 

Declaration of Independence, American, 199 
Declaration of the Rights of Man, 201, 203 

De Gaulle, General, 297 

Delhi, republics near, 169 

Delos, treasury at, 173 

Demetrius of Phalerum, 178 

Democracy: defined, 12; sovereignty in, 82; 
imperfections of, 85; Voltaire on, 87; in 
Rome, 103, 104; Dutch inclination towards, 
III; peace, safety and public good secured 
through, 114; Rousseau's views on, 204; 
decay of, 262; as forerunner of Marxism, 
263; Nietzche's opinion of, 277 

Despotism, defined, 12, 115 

Dharma, Emperor Asoka's proclamation of, 

Dhawan, Gopinath, The Political Philosophy 
of Mahal ma Gandhi, 193, 195, 241 

Dialectical Materialism, 153 

Dialectics, Marxist, 153 

Diaz, dictator of Mexico, 256 

Dickinson, John {ed.). The Statesman's Book 
of John of Salisbury, 74, 75 

Dictatorship: defined, 12; experiment in, 
ended in military, 112; nature of, 251; 
20th century tendency towards, 260; psy- 
chology of, 292 

Diggers, extremist party, 192 

Dikshitar, Ramachandra V. R., Hindu Admin- 
istrative Institutions, 60, 63, 66 

Dilts, M. M., The Pageant of Japanese History, 
31, 58 

Diplomacy, democratic, weakness of, 246 

Disarmament, 248 

Disraeli, Benjamin, 214, 245, 250; policy of, 
225; biography of, 226 

Distributism, 233 

Dnieper, River, 46 

Doctrine of names, 300 

Dolfuss, Austrian politician, 270 

Dominican Republic, 256 

Domitian, first living Emperor called Deus, I 24 



Draco, 169 

Du Bois, Pierre, De Recuperalione Terre 
Sancte, 76 

Dubs, H. H., Hsuntze, the Moulder of Confu- 
cianism, 56, 299 

Duncan, R. (ed.). Selected Writings of Mahat- 
ma Gandhi, 196 

Dunning, W. A., A History of Political Theories 
Ancient and Medieval, 111 

Duplessis-Mornay, adviser to Henry of 
Navarre, 99 

Durham, Bishop of, 96 

Dutt, R. Palme, Fascism and Social Revolution, 
264, 267 

East India Company, 56, 210 

Ecclesia, Athenian, 172, 173 

Economic interpretation of history, 155 

Ecuador, dictators of, 256 

Edwards, S. M., Mughal Rule in India, 136 

Egypt: civilization of, 14; origin of culture in, 
28; Sun God cult in, 30, 31 ; funeral rites, 33; 
king's supernatural powers, 34, 36, 69; 
early customs of, 37; kingdom of, 38; 
horse-drawn chariots in, 46, 47; early 
writing of, 51; pattern of monarchy in, 53, 
55, 63, 68, 102; Roman debt to, 124 

Election, parliamentary (1906), 227 

Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 80, 107, 108 

Elliot Smith, G.: Human History, 20, 30; 
Early Man, his Origin, Development and 
Culture, 28 

Emile (J. J. Rousseau), 204 

Emperor: of Japan, 34; of Incas, 37; Roman, 
53; in China, 55, 56, 57, 58; Papal views on, 
76; Marsiglio's views on, 77; deification of, 
124; Hadrian as, 125; Constantine as, 125 

Empire, 73, 96, 98; Roman. 124 

Engelmann, G., Political Philosophy from 
Plato to Jeremy Bent ham, 211 

Engels, Friedrich, 152, 273 

England: law of, 19, 37; succession of kings 
in, 35; Civil Service in, 56; nationalism in, 
68; national monarchy in, 69, 74, 77, 92, 
99, 112; divine right in, 79, 86; George 111, 
king of, 87; Samuel Johnson and monarchy 
of, 96; aristocracy in, 106, 107, 108, 109, 
110, 111, 117; principle of toleration in, 118; 
Edmund Burke and constitution of, 118 

English Historical Review, 155 

Enock, C. R., Peru, 256 

Ec/uality. (R. H. Tawney), 230 

Equality, in Islam, 130-131 

Equality before God, doctrine of, 190 

Erasmus, 79, 80 

Ethiopia, 34 

Eupatridae, Athenian Council of, 171 

Euphrates, River, 48 

Euripides, 173 

Europe: political thinking in, 7; chivalry in, 
48, 92, 93; national monarchies of, 68, 74; 
feudalism in, 97; aristocracy of, 101, 107. 
109, 111 

Evans, Ivor H. N., Negritos of Malaya, 21, 

Evans-Pritchard, E. E., The Sanusi of Cyre- 
naica, 42 

Evans-Pritchard, E. E., and M. Fortes, 

African Political Systems, 10, 17, 24, 25, 

34, 38, 40 
Everest, Mount, 95 
Everybody's Political What's What (G. B. 

Shaw), 231 
Examinations, Chinese system of, 55 
Executive, power of, 114, 115, 117; Locke's 

views on the, 116 

Fabian Society, 227 

Fascism, as regarded by G. B. Shaw, 279 

Fascists, Italian, 264, 265 

Federalist, The {ed. Max Beloff), 200 

Feudalism: defined, 12; feudal state of China, 
92; chivalry as an aspect of, 95; structure 
of, 96; European, 97; theories of, 98-99, 
100-101; precursor to aristocracy, 117 

Fichte, theories of, 272 

Figgis, J. N., The Divine Right of Kings, 80 

Filmer, Sir Robert: Patriarcha and other 
Political works, 84, 85, 112, 117; Popular 
Government more bloody than a Tyranny, 86; 
The Anarchy of a limited or mixed Monarchy, 

Finer, H., The Future of Government, 243 

First International, 156 

First World War, diplomatic prelude to, 244 

Fischer, Eric, The Passing of the European Age, 

Flanders, 100 

Fleure, H. J., and Harold Peake, Priests and 
Kings, 31, 36; The Steppe and the Sown, 241 

Food-gatherers, 23, 29 

Ford, G. S., Dictatorship in the Modern World, 

Forde, Daryll C, Habitat, Economy and So- 
ciety, a Geographical Introduction to Ethno- 
logy, 40, 44 

Foreign policy: democratic. 244; British, 245 

Fortes, M., and E. E. Evans-Pritchard, 
African Political Systems. 10, 17. 24. 25. 34, 
38, 40 

Forty Ronin, Legend of. 98 

Fragmenlon Government. A. (Jeremy Bentham). 

France: nationalism in, 68, 72; Louis XIV of, 
69, 72, 73; caste system in, 71 ; divine right 
in, 79; Voltaire on, 87, 88; aristocracy of, 
108, 109; monarchy of, 112; fall of (1940), 

Francia, dictator of Paraguay, 258 

Frank, T., An Economic History of Rome, 102 

Frankfort, Henri, Kingship and the Gods, 31, 
34, 35, 38 

Frazer, Sir James, The Golden Bough. 23, 34 

Frederick the Great of Prussia, 86, 89; Anti- 
machiavel, 86; Second Political Testament 
(1768), 86; First Political Testament (1752), 

Freeman, Kathleen, Greek City Slates, 179 

French Revolution, 107, 201, 209 

Froissart, Chronicles of, 98 

Fujiwara Clan, 58, 106 

Fulbe, 24 

Funck-Brentano, Franz, The Old Regime in 
France, 69, 70 



Gaius Gracchus, Roman politician, 182 

Gandhi, Mahatma: ideals of, 193; character 
and career of, 194; views on industry, 196, 
306, 307; views on politics, 197; pohtical 
philosophy of, 240, 241, 242; divine inspira- 
tion of, 285 

Ganges, River, 58 

Garden of Eden, 19 

Garrett, H. L. O., Miii;hal Rule in India, 136 

Gaudefroy-Demombynes, M., Muslim Insti- 
tutions, 134 

Gautama, the Buddha: life, death, and subse- 
quent reputation of, 121-122; ideas as 
preached by Emperor Asoka, 123, 124; 
support given to by the Lichchhavis, 169; 
divine inspiration of, 285 

General Strike (1926), 228 

Geneva: Calvin's arrival at, 82; Calvinist rule 
at, 140 

George III, of England, 86 

Germany: nationalism in, 68; court orchestras 
of, 98 

Ghoshal, V., A History of Hindu Political 
Theories, 33, 59, 65 

Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline 
and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1 28 

Gierke, Legacy of the Middle Ages, 75 

Giolitti, Italian politician, 264, 265 

Glanville, S. R. K., The Legacy of Egypt, 36 

Gluckman, Max, African Political Systems, 24, 

Gobineau, racial views of, 279 

Goebbels, Joseph, 294, 296 

Goering, Herman, 296 

Golden Age: Greek, 19; Chinese, 19, 20; 
Indian, 19, 31; in relation to food-gathering 
peoples, 21 

Gomez, dictator of Venezuela, 256 

Gooch, G. P.: Frederick the Great, the Ruler, 
the Writer, the Man, 86, 89; Dictatorship in 
Theory and Practice, 266 

Goodwin, A., The European Nobility in the 
Eighteenth Century, 71 

Goodwin, A. J. H., Communication has been 
Established, 46, 48 

Gorgolini, P., The Fascist Movement in 
Italian Life, 270 

Gough, J. W., John Locke's Political Philo- 
sophy, 1 1 1 

Graeco-Roman civilization, 14 

Greece: ancient, 7; civilization of, 14; Filmer 
on monarchy in, 85 

Greeks: as pioneers in political thought, 8, 12; 
Golden Age of, 19; script used by, 52; 
influence on Roman Republic, 124, 125 

Greenidge, A. H. J., Roman Public Life, 105 

Gregory the Great, 148 

Grote, G., A History of Greece, 174 et seq. 

Grotius, Hugo, 11 1 

Habsburg Dynasty, 73 

Hadrian, Emperor, 124; Perpetual Edict of, 125 
Halifax, Lord, historian of political thought, 7 
Hamilton, Alexander, The Federalist or the 

New Constitution, 200 
Hammurabi, legal code of, 36 
Happiness, Bentham's definition of, 211 
Hardie, James Keir, 227 

Harem, political dangers of, 67 

Harsha, 123 

Harvest, ruined in England (1879), 226 

Hasa, nomadic tribe, 42 

Hattersley, A. F., A Short History of De- 
mocracy, 216 

Hattin, Horns of, 93 

Hausmann, street planning by, 282 

Havell, E. B., The History of Aryan Rule in 
India, 124 

Hawaii, Children of the Sun of, 30 

Hayar, type of nomad, 41 

Hayek, F. A., The Road to Serfdom, 268 

Healey, John, The City of God, translated by, 

Hearnshaw, F. J. C. : The Social and Political 
Ideas of some great Thinkers of the I6th 
and nth Centuries, 79, 82; Social and 
Political Ideas of the Renaissance and Refor- 
mation, 80; Social and Political Ideas of 
some Representative Thinkers of the Age of 
Reaction and Reconstruction 1815-65, 214 

Hegel, philosophy of, 273 

Hegira, the, 129 

Heitland, W. E., The Roman Republic, 185 

Heliopolis, origin of Sun God cult, 30 

Hellenistic civilization, 14, 124 

Henry of Navarre (Henri IV of France), 69, 99 

Heraclitus, 121 

Herdsmen: nomadic, 24; Sir Henry Maine on 
societies of, 25; described, 39, 41 

Heresy, Christian attitude towards, 127 

Hero-worship, cult of, 274 

Hill, G. B., Boswell's Life of Johnson, 88 

Hill, H., The Roman Middle Class in the 
Republican Period, 185 

Himmler, Heinrich, 296 

Hincman, of Rheims, 74 

Hindoos, 102, 245 

Hindostan, kingdom of, 134 

Hinduism: Hindu Legend of the Golden Age, 
19; superiority of Brahman caste, 59; belief 
in after life, 60; system of educating future 
rulers, 62; theory of Government, 66 

History, study of, 155; Marxist interpretation 
of, 153 

Hitler, Adolf, 51; speech by, 94, 293; his im- 
pressions in youth, 262; German post-war 
situation described by, 267; career of, 268; 
views on democracy, 268; works read by, 
271; admiration for Wagner, 280, 281; 
views on statesmen, 285; physical collapse 
of, 295 

Hobbes, Thomas, 7; Leviathan, 9, 20, 31, 83, 
84, 310; quotations from the works of, 191, 

Hogarth, D. G., (Ed.) Kinglake's Eothen, 45 

Holland, 100 

Holy Roman Empire, 68 

Holy War, 133 

Homer, Iliad, 48 

Homo, L. P., Roman Political Institutions, 103, 

Hooker, Richard, 112, 113, 199 

Horse Guards, Carlyle's respect for, 276 

Horsemen: nomadic, 25; interest in pedigrees, 
42; superior mobility of, 44; development 
of, 46; Pharaoh's use of, 47; Philistines' 
use of, 47; Ruala Bedouins as typical, 49; 



Horsemen — continued. 

advantages and outlook of, 50 ; armoured, 92 ; 

Arab world of, 93; as a basis of aristocracy, 

Horus, Ruler of Egypt, 36; lord of power, 47 
Hoselity, B. F., The Russian Menace to Europe, 

Hottentots, equality among, 20 
Humayan, Moghul Emperor, official title of, 

Hume, David, views on natural law, 212 
Humphrey, Richard, Georges Sorel, Prophet 

without Honor, 283 
Humphreys, R. A., The Evolution of Modern 

Latin America, 255 
Hungary, 99 

Hyksos (Shepherd Kings), 46 
Hyndman, H. M., leader of Social Democratic 

Federation, 227 

Ibanez, Carlos, dictator of Chile, 257 

Ibn Hasan, The Centra/ Structure of the Mughal 
Empire, 1 34 

Independent Labour Party, 227 

India, duration of civilization of, 14; legend of 
Golden Age known to, 19; ruled by Children 
of the Sun, 30; priestly power separate from 
Monarchy in, 31, 32; size of kingdoms, 38 
war chariot, standard weapon, 46, 48, 49 
jodhpurs worn in, 51; Civil Service of, 56 
institution of caste in, 58; Brahman caste 
of, 59; royal power in, 61-63; principles of 
cabinet government in, 66; polygamy in, 67; 
routine of kingship in, 68, 70; examples of 
feudalism in, 92; Gautama's life in, 121; 
new religion created by Gautama's followers 
in, 122; ideas of common folk in, 124; 
early democracy in, 168 

Indonesia, 30; ruled by Children of the Sun, 

Indus, valley of, 46; Kingdoms of, 58 

Industry, concentration of, 156 

Innis, H. A., Empire and Communications, 46 

Innocent III, Pope, 76 

Intef of Thebes, 241 

International Law, definition of "State" for 
purposes of. 111 

Intolerance, instances of, 150 

Ipuwer, Egyptian chronicler, 240 

Isaiah, 121 

Isakovsky, Mikhail, 164 

Islam, theology of, 19; observances of, 130 

Israel: Saul came from smallest tribe of, 42; 
Pharaoh's pursuit of Israelites, 47 

Italy, invaded by French, 78; Roman consti- 
tution to govern, 124; growth of socialism 
in, 263 

Jalal-ud-din, Muslim King, 135 

Jahangir, Emperor, 136 

James I, King of England and Scotland, 79, 80; 
views of, 83; logic of his teaching, 84; bound 
by fundamental laws of his kingdom, 1 16 

James II, King of England, 112 
Japan, religious cult of, 31; Emperor of, 34; 
religious and ceremonial duties of monarchy 
in, 57; Imperial Court of, 71; affords back- 
ground for chivalry, 92; Samurai in, 95; 
Buddhist temples of, 98; literature of, 106; 
Buddhism in, 122, 189 

Jandun, John of, and Marsiglio of Padua, 
Defensor Pads, 77 

Jaures, French Socialist, 228; assassinated, 229 

Java, Buddhism in, 122 

Jay, John, 200 

Jefferson, Thomas, 199 

Jesus Christ, lack of interest in politics, 193 

Jewish opposition to Christianity, 126-127 

Jewish Tribes, legends of, 19; origins and 
customs of, 32, 40, 41, 47; Isaiah, prophet 
of, 121 

Joan of Arc, trial of, 148 

John XXII, Pope, 76, 77 

John of Salisbury, Policraticui or The Stales- 
man's Book, 74, 75 

Johns, C. W. M., Babylonian and Assyrian 
Laws and Contracts, 36 

Johnson, Samuel, 88 

JollifTe, J. E. A., The Constitutional History of 
Medieval England, 98 

Jonas of Orleans, 74 

Jordan, 43 

Joseph of Portugal, 86 

Judge, David as, and lawgiver, 36; king of 
pastoral and nomadic people as, 53 

Judiciary, 114, 115, 116, 117 

Julius Caesar, 34, 185; divine ancestry of, 186; 
consulship of, 186; assassination of, 187 

Justinian, Emperor, 95; institutes of, 125 

Kaiinga, 123 

Kamatari, Clan of, 58 

Kamatavi, noble who reorganised Japan on 
Chinese lines, 57 

Kant, theories of, 272 

Kautalya, 63, 67 

Kedah, Chieftainship in, 23, 24 

Kellogg Pact, 248 

Kemal, Mustafa. 270 

Kennedy, Pringle, A History of the Great 
Moghuls, 136 

Kern, F., Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages, 

Kingship: defined. 12, 53, 54; magician's 
authority as origin of, 23, 30; basis of 
civilizations considered by ancient Near 
East, 31; Jewish, 32; separation of priest- 
hood from, in India, 33; impersonal image 
of, 34; primary functions of, essentially 
religious, 35; as basis of law and unity, 36; 
marriage problems of, 37; amongst pastoral 
peoples, 46; in battle, 47, 48, 49; effect of 
war upon, 50, 51; in relation to caste, 58, 
59; in India, 61, 62-67; in Europe, 68; in 
France, 69-73; John of Salisbury as advo- 
cate of, 74; medieval argument for, 75; 
St. Thomas Aquinas's views on, 75, 76; 
Dante's views on, 77; subordination of 
Papacy to, 78; in relation to nationalism, 79; 



Kingship — continued. 

Divine right of, 80, 81; justification of, 
82; Sir Robert Filmer's justification of, 84, 
85; Samuel Johnson defends, 88; Frederick 
the Great's fears concerning, 89; in relation 
to nobility, 92; welcomed after militant 
feudalism, 98; and law, 99, 115; at time of 
James II in England, 109; return to, after 
military dictatorship in England, 112 

Kirk, G. E., /I Short History of the Middle East, 

Koran, 131 

Kotwal (Moghul town prefect), duties of, 136 

Kshatriyas (Indian warrior caste), 169 

Kwang-Tze, follower of Lao-Tze, Golden Age 
described by, 20 

Kyoto, as capital of Japan, 58 

Locke, John: Treatise of Government, 112; Of 
Civil Government, 112, 113; An Essay con- 
cerning Toleration, 118; Letter concerning 
Toleration, 1 1 8 

Longnon, J., A King's lessons in statecraft, 70 

Lot (Old Testament), 43 

Louis XIV: monarchy of, 68, 71-73; Memoirs 
of, 69, 70 

Louis XVI, 9 

Lowell, A. Lawrence, Governments and Parties 
in Continental Europe, 216 

Lowie, R. H., The Origin of the State, 24, 39 

Ludwig, Emil, Bolivar, the Life of an Idealist, 

Luther, Martin, 79 

Lyceum, scholars of, 179 

Lycurgus of Sparta, 8, 111 

Labour Party, British, foreign policy of, 247 
Labour Movement, British, 227 
Lacedaemonians, humiliation of the, 177 
Laidler, H. W., Social-Economic Movements, 

152, 160, 162 
Lainey, Jesuit, 191 

Laissez-faire, Bentham's defence of, 213 
Lamartine, Aiphonse, influence of, 258-259 
Landtman, G., Origin of the Inequality of the 

Social Classes, 20 
Lao-Tze, 20 
Laski, Harold, 7; A Defence of Liberty against 

Tyrants, 98, 99, 100; prophecy uttered by, 

Lassalle, Ferdinand, 228, 273 
Lastarria, Chilean political theorist, 258 
Latham, Ronald, In Quest of Civilization, 45 
Law: of Osiris in Egypt, 28; rule of, 36; of 

feudal age, 98; of privileges, 99, 100; of 

Rome, 103; of Nature, 113; of Government, 

114; John Locke's views on, 115, 116, 117 
Lawrence, T. E., The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 

Lawyers, Bentham on, 210 
League of Nations Union, 249 
Legislature, 114, 115, 116, 117 
Lenin, deification of, 151, 162, 163 
Levy, R., An Introduction to the Sociology of 

Islam, 133 
Lewis, Bernard, The Arabs in History, 129, 133 
Lewis. W. H., The Splendid Century, 69 
Lex frumentaria, Roman corn law, 182 
Lex Julia, Roman law, 184 
Lex Flantia Papiria, Roman lav^f, 184 
Lhasa, 122 
Liang Chi-Chao, History of Chinese Political 

Thought, 299 
Liberty, Mill's essay on, 217, 221 
Libya, 46 
Lichchhavis, Republican customs of the, 168, 

Lin Mousheng, Men and Ideas, 299 
Lips, Julius E., 21 
Little Entente, 183 

Liu Chi (of Pang), Emperor of China, 298 
Livius Drusus, 183 
Lloyd George: Chancellor of the Exchequer, 

227; Prime Minister, 228 
Local Government, G. B. Shaw's views on, 279 

Mably, Gabriel, de, views on U.S.A., 206 
Macdonald, A. J., Authority and Reason in the 

Early Middle Ages, 74 
Macdonald, Duncan B., Development of 

Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Consti- 
tutional Theory, 131 e/ seq. 
Macedonia, rise of, 174 
Machiavelli, Nicolo: The Prince, 1, 78; 

read by Adolf Hiilet, 272 
MacLeod, W. C, The Origin and History of 

Politics, 37 
MacNair, H. F. (,ed.), China, 56 
Madison, James, 200 
Magician: powers of, 22; influence of, 23, 26, 

53, 74; duties of, 29 
Maginot Line, 248 
Magna Carta, 98 
Mahabharata, the, 31 
Maine, Sir Henry, Ancient Law, 25 
Majid Khadduri, The Law of War and Peace 

in Islam, 131 
Majumdar, R. C, The Vedic Age, 48, 64 
Malabar, 35 
Malaya, 10, 21, 61, 122 
Malayan Annua! Report (1890), 33 
Malone, D., Jefferson and the Rights of Man, 

Malthus, 213 

Man and Superman (G. B. Shaw), 278 
Managerial Revolution, 289 
Mandate of heaven, doctrine of, 299 
Manegold of Lautenbach, 76 
Manetho, 46, 47 

Mantra, council in ancient India, 64 
Mantrin, Chief adviser in ancient India, 64 
Marathon, Battle of, 177 
Mariana, 16th century thinker, 191 
Marie Antoinette, Burke laments plight of, 100 
Marius, Roman General, 183 
Marly, palace of Louis XIV, 70, 72 
Marriage, royal, 37 
Marsiglio of Padua, and John of Jandun, 

Defensor Pads, 11 
Marx, Eleanor, 227 
Marx, Karl, Das Kapital, 151, 153; influenced 

by Hegel, 273; as believer in evolution, 310; 

how regarded in Russia and China, 314 
Marxism, political aspect of, 156-157 
Masson-Oursel, Paul, Ancient India and Indian 

Civilisation, 59 



Materialism, rejected in bngland, 156 

Matriarchy, 18 

Maurice of Nassau, 72 

Maurya, ancient Indian dynasty of, 61, 66, 

McDougall, W., The Croup Mind, 289 
McGovern, W. M., From Luther to Hitler, 

Mecca, 129, 130 
Medina, flight to, 129 
Megasthenes, description of early Hindu 

palaces, 67 
Megiddo, battle of, 46, 47 
Mein Kampf, (Adolf Hitler), 262, 272, 293 
Melos, Athenian relations with, 176 
Mencius (works of), 56 

Mesopotamia: herdsmen of, 25; origin of 
agriculture in, 28; the horses of, 41; war 
chariot of, 46 
Mexico: Aztec, 14; revolutions in, 256 
Michell, H., The Economics of Ancient Greece, 

Middle class, British, social aspirations of, 224 
Miletus, party strife at, 179 
Mill, John Stuart, 213 et seq. 
Millerand, French Socialist, 228 
Ming Tzu (Mencius), 56 
Ming Dynasty, 55 

Mill, James, historian of British India, 213 
Minorities, danger to, 217 
Mitylene, siege of, 175, 177 
Mogul India, 134 

Monarchy: nature of, 12, 23, 31, 32, 34, 53; 
law of, 36: and marriage, 37, 38; function 
of, in war, 50, 51; extent of, 54; in China, 
57; in Japan, 58; in India, 58, 59, 61 et seq.; 
in France, 68 el seq.; medieval theory of, 
74 et seq.; St. Thomas Aquinas's views on, 
75; Dante defends, 76, 77; Marsiglio of 
Padua's views on, 77; Machiavelli dis- 
cusses, 78; Tudor and Stuart theory con- 
cerning, 78, 79-81; Jean Bodin discusses, 
82-83; Thomas Hobbes defends, 83; in 
enlightened form, 88, 89; feudal attempt 
to limit, 98-101; modern evolution of, 106- 
107; John Locke's views on, 112; deifica- 
tion of, at Rome, 124 et seq. 
Monasteries, Buddhist; procedure in, 169; 

democracy in, 188 
Monasticism: as an aspect of feudalism, 95; 

and Rule of St. Benedict, 96 
Montalvo, political theorist of Ecuador, 258 
Montesquieu, 119; Esprit des Lois, 119 
Moon Goddess, 23 
Moore, D. L., The Vulgar Heart, 290 
More, Sir Thomas, Utopia, 7, 79 
Moreland, W. H., The Agrarian System of 
Moslem India, 134; From Akhar to Aura- 
ngzib, 139 
Mornet, M. Daniel, 203 
Morris, William, 157, 196, 227 
Moses, 51 
Moss, H. St. L. B., Byzamtium, an Introduction 

to East Roman Civilization, 128 
Mount Herman, 28 
Muhammad, career of, 129 et seq. 
Mukerjee, R., Democracies of the East, 168, 

Muslim creed, 142 

Muslim Law, 132, 303 

Muslim ruler, duties of, 133 

Mussolini, Benito; Prime Minister of Italy, 
265; praised by Pope Pius XI, 266; opinion 
of liberalism, 266; works read by, 271, 284; 
Beethoven admired by, 271 

Mustafa Kemal, dictator of Turkey, 270 

Myth, theory of, 282 

Nagas, Landtman comments upon equality 
among, 20 

Naka, Japanese Prince of Imperial Clan, 57 

Nara, capital of Yamato (ancient Japan), 57; 
monastic influences of, 58 

National Insurance Act, British (1911), 234 

National Socialism in Germany, 268 et seq. 

Nationalism: and Monarchy, 53; growth in 
Middle Ages of, 68; and Louis XIV, 72; 
and Divine Right and Monarchy, 78, 79, 
80, 81 

Negritos, or Semang, 21, 22 

Netherlands, 111; exception to rule of king- 
ship in 17th century, 68 

New England, puritans of, 166 

New Teitament: depicts Jews as settled agri- 
culturalists, 40; Christ choosing to be born 
under Roman rule, 77 

New Zealand, ruled by Children of the Sun, 30 

News from Nowhere (William Morris), 227 

Ngwato tribe, 24 

Nicene Creed, approved by Council of the 
Church, 128 

Nicolson, Sir Harold, Curzon, the Last Phase, 
246, 247 

Nietzche, Friedrich: as original socialist 
thinker, 272; influence of, 273; philosophy 
of, 277 

Nile, River, 28 

Nippon (Japan), Yamato's name changed to, 

Nirmal Kumar Bose, Studies in Candhism, 193 

Nirvana, Gautama's conception of, 121 

Nobility: in ancient Egypt, 37; as sequel to 
monarchy, 38; monarchy creates, war in- 
creases, 50; god-descended heroes of, 51; 
of the pen, 52; in ancient Japan, 58; in 
France, during reign of Louis XIV, 71, 72 

Nomads: original, 24; sense of kinship among, 
39; characteristics of, 40, 42; tendency to 
dispute, 43, 44; war originated among, 45, 

Nonconformists, social habits of, 225 

Nuer tribe: political institutions ol", 24; of 
southern Sudan, 35 

Old Testament, 40, 80; Kings I, 37, 47, 48; 

Samuel I, 42, 50; Genesis, 43; Exodus, 47; 

Deuteronomy, 47; Jeremiah, 49 
Oligarchy, 82, 91, 114 

Oppenheimer, Professor Franz, Der Staat, 24 
Optimates party at Rome, 181 
O-igin of Species (Charles Darwin), 153 
Orthodoxy in Czarist Russia, 156 
Osiris: arrival in Egypt, 28; deified King, 34 
Ottoman Sultanate, 132 
Owen, Robert, 225 



Page, J. W., From Hunter to Husbandman, 

Paine, Tom, 201 ; Rights of Man, 201 et 

Palestine, 39, 46 
Pant, D., The Commercial Policy of the Moguls, 

Papacy, 69 
Papuans, 20 
Pareto, Vilfredo, 283 
Paris, 97: University of, 149 
Parkinson's Law, lA'i-l^A 
Parliament, British, 108 
Parliament Act (1911), 228 
Parliaments, lessened importance of, 289 
Parthenon frieze, horses in, 172 
Party System (Hilaire Belloc), 232 
Passier, in Sumatra, 35 

Pastoralists: monarchy among, 24, 39, 31, 43, 
44; best trained for war, 45; leadership 
among, 49; conception of kingship among, 
Peace Ballot, 249 

Peake, Harold, 28; Early steps in Human Pro- 
gress, 43 
Peake, Harold and H. J. Fleure: Priests and 
Kings, 31, 36; The Steppe and the Sown, 241 
Peloponnesian War, 173 
Penrose, L. S., On the objective study of crowd 

behaviour, 290 
Pericles. 7, 172, 174 
Peron, Juan, 257 

Perry, W. J.. 20; The Children of the Sun, 30 
Persia, 13, 46, 125, 175 
Peru: civilization of, 14; Incas of, 33, 36, 37, 

38; disorders in, 256 
Pharaoh: cult of, 31 ; separately king of Upper 
and Lower Egypt, 36; daughter of, 37; 
pursuit of Israelites by. 47; Augustus as- 
sumes office of, 124 
Philip II of Spcin. 80 
Phillipines, 30 
Phillips, M. M., Erasmus and the [Northern 

Renaissance. 79 
Phillistines, 47 
Phoenicians, 52 
Physiocrats, 87 

Pilsudski, Marshal, of Poland, 270 
Pitt, William, 214 

Pitti, G., Life of Benito Mussolini, 271 
Pius XI, Pope, praises Mussolini, 266 
Plataea, city of, 177 

Plato, 8, 12; The Laws, 13; The Republic. 179 
Plutarch, 28 
Poland, 68, 86, 99 
Political science, schools of, 11 
Politics, stagnation of, 306 
Polybius, WO et seq. 
Polynesia, 30 
Pontine Marshes, 283 

Poole, Reginald Lane, Illustrations of the 
History of Medieval Thought and Learnim;, 
76, 77 
Populares, democratic party at Rome, 181 
Prasad, Beni, Theory of Government in Ancient 

India, 189 
Pratinidhi, 66 
Pravda, newspaper, 163 
Predestination, Calvin's explanation of, 139 

Priesthood, 23, 29 et seq., 53, 64; duties of, 

29, 30, 31, 32, 53, 64 
Priestley, Joseph, 211 
Prime Ministers, British, 215 
Primo de Rivera, 270 
Prince, The (Machiavelli), 272 
Princeps, office held by Caesar Augustus, 187 
Private enterprise, decay of, in Britain, 238 
Proletarian democracy, G. B. Shaw's opinion 

of, 278 
Property, 29, 40 
Prussia, 89 

Psychology, political implications of. 289 el seq. 
Ptolemies, 124 
Ptolemy of Lucca, 76 
Public schools, significance of, 224 
Punic Wars, 183 
Puritanism, in U.S.A., 192 
Purohita, ecclesiastical minister in ancient 

India, 63 et seq. 

Qassim Ali Jairazbhoy, Muhammad '/I Mercy 

to all the Nations' 1 3 1 
Quakers, character of, 191 
Quesnay, Francois, 87 

Railways, Italian, overstaffing of, 266 
Rauschning, Herman, Hitler Speaks, 272 
Raynal, the Abbe: observations on the Swiss, 

204; on the United Slates, 205-206 
Red Square, Moscow, Lenin's tomb erected in, 

Reform Bill (1867), 214 
Reformation, 77 et seq., 190 
Religion: origins of, 23; political implications 

of, 28 et seq.; as factor in monarchy, 58 et 

Religious persecution, 118-150 
Representative democracy, 12, 96; Mill's essay 

on, 217, 222 
Republic (Plato), 179 

Republicanism, 86 et seq.. Ill, 102 et seq. 
Revenge, as basic instinct, 18 
Ricardo, 213 
Rig Veda. 32, 33 
Rippy, J. F., Historic Evolution of Hispanic 

America, 252 
Rivers, W. H. R., Instinct and the Unconcious, 

Robespierre, 9 

Robinson, J. H., The Mind in the Making, 18 
Rohlfing, C. C, The American Government. 199 
Roland, Song of, 98 
Rome: city of, 14; civilization of, 14; Papal 

inheritance from, 76; Republic of, 85, 102 

et seq.; Republican theory of, 110, 111; 

Empire of, 124-125; deification of Emperor 

at, 34, 181; capture of, by Alaric. 127 
Roosevelt, F. D., 162, 229 
Rosas, dictator of Argentina, 256 
Rostovtzeff, M.. 4 History nf the Ancient 

World, 185 
Rouen, 150 



Rousseau, Jean Jacques, The Social Contract, 

9, 10, 203 et seq. 
Runnymede, 98, 117 
Rupert, Prince, 240 
Ruskin, his influence on Gandhi, 195 
Russell, Bertrand, The Practice and Theory oj 

Bolshevism, 160 
Russia, problem of government, 158 
Russian Communism, 156 
Russian revolutionaries and Marxism, 156 

Sabine, G. H., A History of Political Theory, 

96, 212,213 
St. Benedict, 95, 96; teachings of, 142 et seq. 
St. Augustine: on slavery, 145; on political 

authority, 146; on heresy, 417-418 
St. Simon, 70 
St. Thomas Aquinas, 76; De Regimine Prin- 

cipum, 75; Selected Political Writings, 75 
Sakai, Malay Aborigines, 21 et seq. 
Salazar, dictator of Portugal, 270 
Samoa, 30 

Samuel, Book of, 32, 36 
Samurai, 95 
Sanskrit, 66 
Santi-parva, 19 
Saracens, 48 
Sargon of Agade, 45 
Sassanian administration, 125 
Satya Yuga, 20 
Saul, King, 42, 47 
Scandinavians, 33 

Scheele, G., The Weimar Republic, 267 
Schlesinger, Rudolf, The Spirit of Post- War 

Russia, 159 
Schopenhauer, works of, read by Adolf Hitler, 

Science: progress of, 155, 306; medieval. 

faults of, 307 
Semang, 21, 22. 23 
Semitic tribes: Nomads, 24. 46, 47, 125; 

character of, 126 
Senate, Roman. 105, 106 
Servile State. The (Hilaire Belloc), 232 
Seth, 36 
Sethat, 37 
Sforza, Count Carlo, European Dictatorships, 

Shaftesbury, Earl of, 112 
Shaikhs, 42 

Shakespeare, William, Henry V, 78 et seq. 
Shaw, G. B., 230 et sc^?.. '241-242. 279; The 

Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, etc., 

35, 278; Man and Superman. 278 
Shelburne, Lord, 214 
Shih Huang-Ti, 55 
Shilluk, 34 
Shwayar, 42 
Siam, 35, 122 
Siberia, 25 

Sicily, Athenian disaster in attacking. 177 
Smith, Sir Thomas, De Republica Anglorum, 

Smith, Vincent A., The Early History of India 

from 600 ii.c. to the Muhamnuidan Conquest. 


Snow, Edgar, 163 

Social Contract, essays by Locke, Hume, 
Rousseau, 213 

Social Contract, The (J J. Rousseau), 204 

Social Democratic Federation, 226 

Social War, ac Rome, 184 

Socialism, 188; in Europe, 228 

Socialist League, 227 

Socialist legislation introduced by Disraeli, 226 

Socrates, 169, 285 

Sokoto empire, 24 

Solomon, King, 36, 37, 47 

Solon, Athenian Lawgiver, 8, 39, 172 

Somadevi Suri, 65 

Sorel, Georges, theories of, 282 et seq.; Re- 
flections on Violence, 282 

Sorokin, P. A., Social Philosophies of an Age 
of Crisis, 260 

South America, political problems of, 251 et 

Spain, 68, 80, 99, 125 

Spanish Civil War, 249 

Sparta, 35, 102, 111 

Spartans, humiliation of, 177 

Specior, Ivar, An Introduction to Russian 
History and Culture, 159 

Spengler, Oswald, consulted by Adolf Hitler. 
281; The Decline of the West. 260, 289 

Spinoza, Benedict, Writings in political philo- 
sophy, 310 

Stalin, Joseph, 161, 164; on the Russian Con- 
stitution of 1936, 159-160; Leninism, 162; 
deification of, 163 

Stark, W., America, Ideal and Reality, 205 

Steppes, 46 

Steward, Julian H., Handbook of South Ameri- 
can Indians, 37 

Stoic philosophy, 125 

Suarez, the Jesuit, 191 

Subjection of Women, The (J. S. Mill). 217 

Sudan, 35 

Sudra, 64 

Suger, 69 

Sulla, Roman Consul, 184 

Sumatra, 35, 122 

Sumeria, 14, 31, 45, 51 

Sun God, 23, 29 et seq., 37, 69, 124 

Superman, doctrine of, 272 

Supreme Court (United States), function of, 

Sutralankara, 62 

Sweden, 35 

Switzerland, 82 

SybU, or the Two Nations, Benjamin Disraeli, 

Syme, R., The Roman Revolution. 185 

Syndicalists, 242 

Syria, 28, 46, 52,93, 125 

Taboo, 18 
Tallensi, 24 

T'ang Dynasty, 55, 57, 298 
Tawney, R. H., Equality, 230 
Taxation, 51, 115 

Taylor, L. R., The Divinity of the Roman 
Emperor, 186, 187 



Taylor, T. M., A Constitutional ami Political 

History of Rome, 182 et seq. 
Theocracy, 59, 82, 121, 122 
Theodosius, Emperor, 125 
Thomas, F. W., Cambridge Modern History, 

Thomson, David, Eqiialily, 230 
Thothmes 111, 46 
Tiberias, city of, 93 

Tiberius Gracchus, Roman pohtician, 181 
Tibet, 46, 122 
Timor, 30 

Trade Depression (1877-78), 226 
Trafalgar Square Riots, 227 
Treason trials, psychology of, 291 
Trebizond, 93 
Trevelyan, Dr. G. M., 276 
Trevor-Roper, H. R., Hitler's Table Talk, 212. 

Trianon, 72 
Tribal customs: primitive, 10, 21, 23, 26; 

African, 24, 38; among nomad peoples, 40 

et seq.; Bedouin, 49; Indian, 58 
Tripolis, 93 

Tristan, admired by Adolf Hitler, 280 
Tristram, Canon, In the Sahara, 41 
Ts'in (Ch'in), 54, 55 
Turkestan. 41 

Uganda, 34 

Umayyads, 131, 132, 133 

United States of America : ideals of, 8, 206 et 
seq.; independence of, 199, 205; constitu- 
tion of, 200; freedom upheld in, 208; 
Socialist influence in, 229 

Universities, 97 

University of Paris, 148, 150 

Usanas, military formation laid down by, 64 

Userkaf, high priest, 31 

U.S.S.R., constitution of, 159 

Utilitarian principle, 211 

Utopia (Thomas More), 79 

Utopian ideas, 9, 319; element in Marxism, 

Village, origin of, 28-29 

Viollet, Paul, 69 

Vittorio Veneto, Battle of, 263 

Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary, 87; views 

on politics, 87-88; comment on England by, 


Wagner, Cosima, 281 

Wagner, Richard, influence of, 280 

Wagner, Siegfried, 281 

Wales, Marches of, 99 

Walpole, Sir Robert, 107 

War: origins of, 44-45; early examples of, 
46-49; implications of, 49-52; medieval, 
93-95; Wars of the Roses. 107; Seven Years 
War, 109; developments in art of, 288 

War of Independence, the American, 192 

Warde, Fowler, W., The City-State of the Greeks 
and Romans, 171 

Washington Conference, 245 

Webb, Beatrice, on Lenin, 160, 162 

Webb, Sidney: on Lenin, 160, 162; not ad- 
mired by Georges Sorel, 282 

Weimar Republic, 267 

Welfare State, 244 

Wei's, H. G., 227, 278 

Welsh Marches, 99 

Westphalen, Jenny von, wife of Karl Marx, 

Wilhelm, Richard, A Short History of Chinese 
Civilization, 55 

Wilkinson, R. J., Papers on Malay Subjects: 
the Aboriginal Tribes, 21-22 

William of Orange, 109, 112 

Wilson, Woodrow, 229; as President of 
U.S.A., 239 

Winstanley, 17th century extremist, 192 

Wirszubski, Ch., Libertas as a political idea 
at Rome during the late Republic and early 
Principate, 181 

Wolfe, H. I. (ed.), Voltaire's Philosophical 
Dictionary, 87 

Wren, Sir Christopher, 285 

Wu Ti, 55 

Wyndham Lewis, The Art of being Ruled, 272 

Vaisali, Indian city, 168, 169 

Vanaparva, 19 

Vauban, Sebastian, 286 

Vedic period, 58, 59, 62 

Venezuela, independence of, 253, 256 

Venice, 96, 111 

Venizelos, Eleutherios, dictator of Greece, 270 

Venkateswara, S. V., Indian Culture through 

the Ages, 168 
Versailles, palace of, 69-73 
Vikings, 33 

Yamato, Great (Japan), 31, 57 
Yuvaraja, heir apparent under Indian Mon- 
archy, 66 

ZiMMERN, A., The Greek Commonwealth, 173 

et seq. 
Zimonis, status of, 134 
Zulus: political institutions of, 24; kingship 

among, 38 

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